Major Cheese-Producing Nations Stand Firm Against EU’s Misappropriation of “Havarti”

November 26th, 2019

Major dairy-producing organizations around the world challenged the European Union’s (EU) decision to disregard market realities and international trade standards by granting Denmark sole ownership of the generic name “havarti” cheese in Europe. With the EU’s publication of the decision in October, “havarti” was granted a geographical indication (GI), even though the name “havarti” does not refer to any geographic region in Denmark, and most havarti cheese is produced outside of Denmark – including by Danish company Arla Foods in the United States. The move blocks any producer outside of Denmark from selling cheese by that name within the EU. Other major producers of havarti include the United States and Canada, with additional production in Australia, New Zealand, and in other European nations such as Germany. (See infographic and the CCFN press release.)

Leading dairy associations from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay and the United States together with CCFN sent a letter to EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan expressing outrage at the EU’s disregard of established international standards and protocols for fair trade.

News of the EU’s action on havarti drew extensive media coverage, including analysis in the World Trademark Review, which observed that GIs are becoming “an even hotter political issue”, most recently increasing the rancor related to the EU-Australian trade deal. WTR concluded, “The Havarti backlash serves as a microcosm of the political debate over GIs. With Brexit negotiations ongoing (and rounds of trade negotiations to follow), Australia and the EU maneuvering around a $100 billion free trade deal and a new USTR Special 301 report due early next year, expect to hear a lot more about GIs in the coming months.”