The Waterford Blaa joins the “upper crust” of European food names

The Waterford Blaa successfully registered for prestigious Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status

Today the local Waterford Blaa bread receives the highest recognition as a quality European foodstuff, as it is awarded the coveted Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status. This prestigious designation means that the Waterford Blaa can claim its place among the ranks of internationally renowned products such as Italy’s Parma Ham, France’s Camembert de Normandie Cheese and Greece’s Kalamata Olive Oil.

In 2009, a meeting of four traditional family bakeries from County Waterford and South Kilkenny led to the establishment of the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association. The main objectives of the group were to protect the Waterford Blaa as a traditional Irish food product and to register it as a protected food product in Europe.

Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine congratulated the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association on acquiring PGI designation for the Waterford Blaa which will help provide a platform to market and promote the Blaa as a unique regional product of Ireland. PGI status will also provide the product with protection against imitation throughout Europe.

The Minister added, ” A PGI is a symbol of quality within Europe. This unique quality product is distinguished by the use of simple ingredients, traditional skills and local knowledge to produce something that has became a symbol of Waterford, and a much loved food of the Waterford people for generations.

This is a fine example of co-opetition, where local producers work together to achieve results. I hope the achievement of the Waterford Blaa Bakers will encourage other producer groups to come together and work with my Department to get more products recognised on the EU register. As is visible here, these EU schemes can help to build networks among local food producers and communities to strengthen the rural economy. ”

The story of the Blaa goes back over 300 years to the 1690’s, when the French Huguenots arrived in Ireland introducing white flour and their very capable baking skills. Made with no artificial additives or preservatives, the Blaa is shaped into small balls, flattened, proved and sprinkled with white flour before baking.

The group members, M & D Bakery, Hickey’s Bakery, Barron’s Bakery and Kilmacow Bakery, are delighted that their famous bread product has been successful in its application for PGI status.

Mr. Dermot Walsh of M & D Bakery said that the implications of PGI for the Waterford Blaa are significant. “The Waterford Blaa is now produced under a new traceability scheme which clearly defines recipes and baking processes. All bakers must follow EU approved guidelines and the Waterford Blaa can only be produced within the geographic area of County Waterford and its surrounds.”

Esther Barron of Barron’s Bakery said, “To be successful in our application we had to adhere to stringent traceability and production processes which means that the consumer is assured of the best quality and taste.”

According to Brian Hickey of Hickey’s Bakery the public will have protection against imitation products as a result of the stringent European production guidelines. “Basically bakers who are members of the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association are the only bakers that can produce and market the Waterford Blaa.”

The Waterford Blaa Bakers received support from Waterford City Enterprise Board, Bord Bia and The Food Industry Development Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Mr. Ciaran Cullen, Chief Executive, Waterford City Enterprise Board, praised the dedication of the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association in securing PGI status. “All the hard work of the group has finally come to fruition after four long years. The blaa which was once practically unknown outside of Waterford will now enjoy the revered status of European products such as the Cornish Pasty and Roquefort Cheese.”

“This group of four traditional family bakers has taken a traditionally indigenous bread product and shone a spotlight on Waterford. Achievement of PGI designation for the Waterford Blaa can help further develop the local economy, promote local food traditions and enhance the overall image and reputation of Waterford.”