European Union to send ambassador to King Island for fact finding mission

DAIRY DREAM: Cheese produced by King Island Dairy is world famous. Picture: Lachlan Bennett
DAIRY DREAM: Cheese produced by King Island Dairy is world famous. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

The European Union will send around a dozen ambassadors to King Island next year for a fact finding mission.

The two-day trip is designed to help the EU understand how King Island uses its brand to sell agricultural products, such as its world-famous cheese and beef.

King Island Brand Management Committee chair Duncan McFie said the trip would provide an opportunity "to showcase our food produce and services" to the international community.

"And argue the case for why we want to protect our brands here," he said.

The trip comes amid ongoing negotiations of a free trade agreement between Australia and its second-largest trading partner, the EU.

The EU is a strong supporter of legislative protections for products produced in a certain region, such as only branding sparkling wine 'champagne' if it is produced in the Champagne region of France.

Mr McFie said his committee also supported these Geographic Indicator protections as the "absolute premium, absolute clean and absolute green" image of King Island was an important selling point for local producers.

But he said there were "sporadic" examples of businesses falsely claiming their products were from King Island.

"We've had 'King Island rabbit' sold in Queensland but there are no rabbits on King Island," Mr McFie said.

"Some years ago we were able to get the ACCC to prosecute some folks who were selling 'King Island beef' ... It was a huge time and effort on our behalf but if we had legislation in place that would make it easier and cheaper."

Currie Harbour on King Island. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

Currie Harbour on King Island. Picture: Lachlan Bennett

The EU delegation are expected to arrive on King Island in late January where they will meet with local businesses and have a long table dinner showcasing local produce.

The ambassadors will likely meet with Premier Will Hodgman and be accompanied by a media crew producing stories about the benefits of Geographic Indicators for premium producers.

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King Island Council general manager Greg Alomes said the trip would have various benefits including increased coverage of food and tourism offerings, positive stories and increased awareness of the island's life and business among politicians.

"It's somewhat a feather in the cap of King Island that they want to come here and just understand what the place is and how we go about what we do," Mr Alomes said.

King Island Council has committed $3000 to facilitate a tour and long table dinner for the EU delegation.

The EU has chipped in $5000 for an initiative expected to cost $12,000 in total before GST.

This story Why the EU is sending ambassadors to King Island first appeared on The Advocate.