Simon Coveney, TD Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, at a reception in Waterford’s Medieval Museum expressed delight at the inclusion of Waterford Blaa/ Blaa as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in the exclusive list of protected food names in the EU.
This prestigious designation means that the Waterford Blaa can claim its place among the ranks of internationally renowned products such as Italy’s Parma Ham, France’s Camembert de Normandie Cheese and Greece’s Kalamata Olive Oil.
“This is no small achievement for the Waterford Blaa bakers. A PGI is a symbol of quality within Europe and quality is an issue for every food producer and consumer. EU quality schemes identify foodstuffs produced to exacting specifications with proven links to the geographical area in which they are produced.”
The Minister added “The publication of the Waterford Blaa/Blaa registration follows close engagement between the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association, my Department and the European Commission. I strongly encourage other groups of food producers to come together to see if your local foods could also qualify forthe EU register of protected food names and to work with my Department on presenting the best possible case for recognition”.
“The Blaa Bakers are an example to all that Irish products can achieve success at the highest level. I hope others will follow as we celebrate tonight with other pioneers – Connemara Hill Lamb and Imokilly Regato. It can be done and we want more groups of producers to take on the challenge.”
In 2009, a meeting of four traditional family bakeries from County Waterford and South Kilkenny led to the establishment of the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association. The main objectives of the group were to protect the Waterford Blaa as a traditional Irish food product and to register it as a protected food product in Europe.
The group members, M & D Bakery, Hickey’s Bakery, Barron’s Bakery and Kilmacow Bakery, are delighted that their famous bread product has been successful in its application for PGI status.
Mr. Dermot Walsh of M & D Bakery said that the implications of PGI for the Waterford Blaa are significant. “The Waterford Blaa is now produced under a new traceability scheme which clearly defines recipes and baking processes. All bakers must follow EU approved guidelines and the Waterford Blaa can only be produced within the geographic area of County Waterford and its surrounds.”