Vale of Evesham Asparagus wins protected status

The European Commission has granted protected geographical indication (PGI) status for Vale of Evesham Asparagus, while a similar bid for the Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum has also moved forward.

Image: Bongo Vongo (CC BY SA 2.0)
Image: Bongo Vongo (CC BY SA 2.0)

Worcestershire-based West Growers managing director Matt Foster, who has overseen the asparagus bid, told "We have been working with Waitrose on this. It will give a boost for regional producers, and will be on asparagus sold in Waitrose stores all over the country."

He said the four-year process of achieving the status: "It was difficult to agree an area and a specification, and there are a lot of rules to abide by."

And he added: "We don't actually now how many growers or how much asparagus will be covered by this - we each do our own marketing and the overall figures aren't recorded."

The Vale of Evesham holds the UK's only asparagus festival between April and June each year.

Meanwhile protected designation of origin (PDO) status for the Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum has taken a step forward following the successful completion of a UK consultation on the bid. ADAS horticulture consultant Chris Creed is now preparing a submission to the EU.

Nia Williams of The Denbigh Plum Group, who is coordinating the bid, said: "The next step is to sort out the auditing process so trading standards can inspect the fruit.

"It's the only native Welsh plum with a documented history going back to 1785, and though it's not grown commercially there are many in people's gardens and a 30-tree community orchard has been planted, with more land being donated recently for another small orchard."

A syrup, a chilli jam and a special edition chocolate are among the local food products already using the plums, she added. "But they are also fantastic fresh."

Other UK fresh produce types with PGI status are Pembrokeshire and Comber early potatoes, Armagh Bramley apples and Fenland celery, while Jersey Royal potatoes and Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb have been awarded PDO status.

The two designations are similar, though PDO is stricter in the degree to which the product must be particular to a defined area.

Earlier this year, then Defra secretary Liz Truss called for the number of UK PGIs and PDOs to rise from the current 73 to a target of 200.

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