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Cheese Branding Without a Name
By: Cindy Wendland
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The fourth round of trade talks are taking place this week in Brussels with the European Union (EU) and the U.S. The European Union wants to ban the use of European names like parmesan, feta, and gorgonzola on cheese made in the United States. How will the U.S. market a product that no longer has a type?

The talks are aimed at removing trade barriers between the EU and the U.S. Some EU sausages cannot access the U.S. market because of a zero tolerance to listeria in fermented meat products. The U.S. poultry industry wants the EU to accept chickens washed with chlorine. Both of these demands sound nasty. At least on the cheese front, it is only about a name.

Only a name? “The European Union is determined to write into any deal its system of geographical indications, which protects countries' or regions' exclusive right to product names.” The EU argues that parmesan cheese should only come from Parma, Italy and feta cheese should only be from Greece, even though feta isn’t actually a place. The EU has already accomplished this in agreements with Canada and Central America. Under the Canadian agreement, new feta products manufactured in Canada can only be marketed as feta-like or feta-style, and they can't use Greek letters or other symbols that evoke Greece.

As a cheese brand manager in the U.S., how do you market a product without a type or variety? How sexy is it to sell a feta-like cheese? Maybe these brand managers can take after Prince and give the cheese some symbols, preferably ones that are unpronounceable and then later on refer to the cheese as “Formerly called Parmesan."

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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