Celebrations after native Shetland wool wins protected status

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Native Shetland wool is to receive protected status under a European Union scheme that already helps producers of Shetland lamb, Cornish clotted cream and blue stilton cheese, it was announced today.

It is the first time in the UK that a non food or drink product has gained Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) accreditation, which means sellers must provide proof of provenance and breed. The “Native Shetland Wool” designation, due to come into force on Monday 28th November, will give a guarantee to customers that they are buying the genuine, premium product from Shetland.

Dorota Rychlik of ShetlandOrganics CIC, which has waited six years since applying for the protection on behalf of Shetland crofters and farmers, said: “We are all delighted that as ShetlandOrganics members, we have finally received the well-deserved accreditation which, we find, means a lot to our well-informed customers and buyers of our outstanding woollen products.

“It comes at the time of increasing consumer awareness of provenance and traceability, and while the indigenous industries are enjoying a happy revival, as demonstrated by the popularity of our Wool Week here in Shetland. We could not have hoped for a better boost for our long-term determination to achieve European and world-wide recognition for the special quality of Shetland wool.”

She said ShetlandOrganics was grateful for the assistance of both Scottish government and DEFRA in guiding their progress through the system.

Formal legal protection comes into force 20 days following publication of the Commission Implementing Regulation in the EU Official Journal. This was published on 8th November.

The successful bid from ShetlandOrganics has come at the right time. Surging demand for genuine wool products has resulted in a huge rise in market prices for Scotland sheep fleece. This increase for Scotland’s sheep farmers is a welcome boost and after years of decline is at a 25-year high.

Announcing the PDO accreditation, rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is home to some of the most popular protected food name products in Europe – including Scotch Beef and Scottish Farmed Salmon – and I’m delighted that Native Shetland Wool joins this exclusive club, as the first non food product Scotland.

“This PDO proves there is further opportunity for farmers through animal by-products to carve out a prestigious, desirable commodity as well food and drink.

“The high quality of Scottish sheep fleece together with extensive world-wide promotion of wool has seen demand soar. Consumers are moving away from synthetic offerings and demanding the genuine article – be it clothing or furnishings. Therefore, protecting our valuable natural resources is absolutely crucial.

“Scotland is a land rich in raw materials and the Scottish government will work with companies to make sure more of our iconic produce has maximum protection. There is no substitute for our fantastic Scottish produce, and the market clearly shows this.

“The 2010 wool clip value is double that of 2009, and three times that of 2008. Scottish sheep farmers are well placed to benefit from this remarkable rise in market prices, currently at a 25-year high.”

For more information on the Protected Designation of Origin scheme, please visit: www.scotland.gov.uk

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