Cheese wedges.
April 25, 2018

Mexico Appears Ready to Give Way on Common Cheese Names

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The  U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) expressed frustration today that Mexico is poised to restrict the use of common cheese names in its free trade agreement with the European Union.


Full details of the agreement have yet to be released, but it appears Mexico will restrict the use of “parmesan,” “munster,” and “feta” for cheese products sold in the country. Future restrictions could come on gorgonzola, asiago, fontina and Neufchatel.


“We are deeply disappointed that Mexico has limited U.S. access by restricting the use of common food names that have been used in the Mexican market for years. This undermines the rule of law and the value of the market access terms the U.S. has long had in place with Mexico,” says Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDEC president and CEO.


“While we are pleased that Mexico did not go so far as to grant full market access to the EU for dairy products, Mexico is essentially back-tracking on its mantra of ‘doing no harm’ in the NAFTA context,” he says. “We hope as the details are hammered out that Mexico carefully weighs the impact of its remaining decisions pertaining to geographical indications (GIs) and common names.”


Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the Consortium for Common Food Names, hopes the Mexican Congress “recognizes that this rogue approach at GI policy is bad for consumers and ultimately benefits a handful of European producers at the expense of Mexico’s own industry.”


Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO, also expressed frustration with the slow pace of new trade negotiations and agreements that would allow the U.S. to shape rules of trade. “It makes it absolutely essential that the U.S. Administration deliver on our industry’s NAFTA priorities by providing new dairy market access and eliminating trade-distorting dairy pricing classes such as Canada’s Class 7,” he says.