The scheme protects the authenticity of produce associated with a geographical area and is being streamlined following the UK’s departure from the EU.
The Wensleydale Creamery was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission in December 2013 for its Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.
Ms Prentis’s visit highlighted the introduction of the new UK GI schemes and the Government’s focus on encouraging people to buy local and sustainable British food.
“Over the course of the last few months many of us have reassessed where our food comes from and I think we need to capitalise on that interest and encourage people to ask more questions about their food source,” Ms Prentis said while also highlighting the benefits of short, transparent supply chains.
During her visit to the creamery, Ms Prentis toured the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience before turning her hand to cheesemaking and cheese grading with the creamery’s experts.
The Minister said Yorkshire Wensleydale was a great example of how the GI scheme could benefit producers and consumers.
“It’s really exciting in the farm to fork journey. Customers know if a product is labelled GI it has real locality and Wensleydale a fabulous example.
“Everywhere in the landscape, in some way, is cheese production, from the cows and sheep grazing the fields to the many people it has employed.
“Sites such as the creamery are major providers of rural jobs, contributing millions of pounds to local economies across the UK. Everyone should try more of the UK’s excellent local and regional produce, and I hope to see more producers sign up to our new GI schemes, which protects products with special quality, provenance and heritage.”
Sandra Bell, marketing manager at Wensleydale Creamery, said they welcomed the Minister’s support for protecting “iconic British foods” through the new GI schemes.
“Our Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese is extremely important to us and something we are proud to protect. It is important for us and our customers that it is handcrafted here in its rightful home of Wensleydale.”