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New Study Assesses Potential Impacts of Geographical Indications on American Dairy Industry

By Lorrie Baumann

A new study highlights the cost for American cheesemakers and the entire dairy industry if European rules restricting the use of the “feta” and “parmesan” names were to be enforced in the United States as well. The only real good news in the report is that although small and medium-sized firms would be significantly pressured by lower cheese prices, they might be able to survive by marketing their niche and specialty cheeses. The report was funded by the Consortium for Common Food Names, a dairy industry group.

According to Informa Economics IEG, a market research firm specializing in the agriculture industry, the adoption of rules prohibiting American companies from using the “feta” and “parmesan” names would diminish demand for American-made cheeses now sold under those names, and the negative impacts could also affect American-made cheeses labeled Asiago, Gorgonzola, Romano, Havarti, Neufchatel, Fontina and Muenster. Eventually, those restrictions could also affect Brie, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Camembert, Gouda, Raclette, Edam, Provolone, Burrata, Emmentaler and even Cheddar cheeses.

Under European Union regulations, only cheesemakers in the specific geographic area in which certain cheeses originated are allowed to use names that have been ruled as geographic indicators. At present, there are 250 cheeses that have been granted such protection in the EU or are in the process of acquiring it. If U.S. cheese manufacturers were forced to adhere to these regulations, they’d likely be required to suspend use of names that have commonly been used in the U.S. for decades. The report suggests that the only U.S. cheeses that we can assume will never be affected by such restrictions are those sold as blue cheese, Monterey Jack, Baby Jack, Brick, Swiss, Colby, Baby Swiss and processed cheeses like Velveeta or Kraft Singles.

If these restrictions were to be imposed in the U.S. the immediate impact might be to reduce consumption of U.S.-produced cheeses by 578 million pounds, or 5 percent of total U.S. cheese consumption in 2015. At current market prices, that would be worth about $2.3 billion. Delayed impacts would be even greater, with consumption of U.S.-produced cheeses possibly falling by a projected 1.71 billion pounds.

Those drops in demand for American cheeses would have a significant effect on the U.S. dairy industry as a whole, with the possible effect that milk prices to the dairy farmers could fall by significantly over a 10-year period. That would put some dairy farmers out of business and reduce the size of the nation’s dairy cow herd. “The lower dairy prices do boost domestic consumption of other dairy products, and it does increase exports, but not nearly enough to offset the drop in cheese consumption,” according to the report.

Overall, the consumer reaction if the only mozzarella cheese they could find in their supermarket was imported from Italy and their cheddar could only come from Britain would trigger a sharp contraction in the U.S. dairy industry. The report predicts that dairy farm revenue could fall by 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent over three years, leading to revenue losses of $5.8 billion to $13.2 billion.

John Cochran Joins Hollandia Produce as CEO

Hollandia Produce, L.P., a portfolio company of Mosaic Capital Partners, LLC, has named John Cochran as its new Chief Executive Officer effective November 14, 2016.

Cochran’s experience as a CEO of high-growth consumer packaged goods businesses will serve as a springboard for Hollandia as it plans to accelerate growth in 2017. He previously served as CEO of Ole Smoky Distillery and Pabst Brewing Company. In addition to his time as vice president of strategy at Roll International (now The Wonderful Companies), Cochran also held the positions of President and COO at FIJI Water.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to work with the Hollandia Produce family,” said Cochran. “They have done an amazing job growing the hydroponic lettuce market to what it is today. Our plans for the future are very exciting, and we look forward to partnering with our customers as the category captain for living greens.”

Cochran will assume his new leadership role in place of Hollandia’s founder and long-time CEO Pete Overgaag, who will continue with the company as Executive Vice President of Innovation and Corporate Strategy. Mosaic Principal and Hollandia Board Member Ian Mohler spoke of the hire saying, “Pete built Hollandia into the leading hydroponic lettuce company, and we are excited about adding an individual with John’s track record to an amazing team as we focus on growing the company.”

This change in leadership comes as the company celebrates one year of being 100 percent employee-owned through an employee stock ownership plan.

Holiday Gift Basket Auction to Benefit Meals on Wheels

The Olive Fruit, creators of Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, are holding the company’s first annual holiday gift basket charity auction, with the creation of a gift basket to be auctioned to the highest bidder through its Facebook page. All of the proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels, America’s oldest and largest national organization supporting more than 5000 community-based programs dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger.

The basket will include a range of epicurean delights supplied by generous partners, such as Sir Kensington Condiments, Terry’s Toffee, Royal Rose Syrups, Tate’s Bake Shop Cookies, Fundamentally Nuts, Sandamiri Crostini and, of course, Kiklos Olive Oil.  The estimated value of the basket is $200, but Kiklos and partners are hoping that the auction will produce double that amount.  Moreover, the Olive Fruit will then match the final bid with its own corporation donation.

Facebook fans participate in the auction by commenting their bids on the Holiday Gift Basket Charity Auction image on The Olive Fruit Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Olive-Fruit-215702495257739/. In order to drive more bids, Kiklos and partners are also offering participants the chance to win a duplicate holiday basket, even if they aren’t the highest bidder.  The Kiklos Holiday Gift Basket Charity Auction runs for 12 days, ending at noon EST on December 21.

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