Austrian hay milk receives EU seal of quality g.t.S. (guaranteed traditional speciality)
The EU Commission has recognised Austrian hay milk as a “protected traditional speciality” (g.t.s.), which means that it is now protected from plagiarism from the 28 EU states by the quality seal, reports the Austria Press Agency, citing the Salzburger Nachrichten.
This means that domestic hay milk can be found in a category such as Pizza Napoletana, cultivated mussels from France (moules de bouchot), special Belgian beers such as Oude Geuze or Dutch matjeshering.
The seal of quality “guaranteed traditional speciality” was awarded for the first time in German-speaking countries – Federal Minister Rupprechter awarded the seal at the big Heugala on 5 March 2016 in Salzburg.
Austrian hay milk may bear the EU seal of quality g.t.S. – guaranteed traditional speciality. The EU seal guarantees a traditional composition or a traditional production process of a foodstuff.
“Austrian hay milk is the first food in German-speaking countries to be awarded the g.t.S. label and is thus given special protection. This is a confirmation of the work of our hay milk farmers and processors, who have dedicated themselves to the most original form of milk production,” explains Karl Neuhofer, chairman of ARGE Heumilch Austria.
The seal of approval was officially awarded on 5 March by Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter at the big Heugala in Salzburg – in the presence of personalities from politics and business as well as over 500 hay milk farmers.
The Austrian dairy industry relies on uncompromising top quality: in addition to hay milk products, it stands for a high proportion of organic milk, nationwide GMO-free production and the strict criteria of the AMA quality label. Around 80% of the milk is produced in mountain and disadvantaged areas, from which many regional product specialities such as organic meadow milk are obtained. In Austria there are now around 8,000 hay-milk farmers who do not use silage at all.
“Hay milk is the best example of quality paying off. Consumers are increasingly turning to regional specialities and are prepared to pay more for them. In economically difficult times, products such as hay milk are a real opportunity for farmers. The quality seal ‘guaranteed traditional speciality’ brings additional added value for this Best of Austria product”, emphasises Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter.
“The seal gives consumers an even greater guarantee of quality and authenticity,” emphasises Andreas Geisler, coordinator of ARGE Heumilch. The award offers opportunities not only on the domestic market in Austria, but also in exports. “Hay milk as a guaranteed traditional speciality is therefore also the focus of our future marketing activities. There are currently around 600 different hay-milk products available on the domestic market.
The EU labels agricultural products and foodstuffs with tradition. In addition to a certain origin, these labels guarantee a taste experience at a high level of quality, due to strict testing procedures and regular controls. For several years now, hay-milk products such as Tiroler Bergkäse, Vorarlberger Bergkäse, Tiroler Almkäse and Vorarlberg Alpkäse have been allowed to bear the “protected designation of origin” PDO seal.
Demand for hay milk continues to rise
Sales of hay-milk products in the domestic food trade rose by 3.5 percent to more than 109 million euros in the previous year. For the white pallet, hay milk products increased by 3.8 per cent, for the yellow pallet by 2.2 per cent. The hay industry thus developed contrary to the market as a whole, which suffered a drop in sales of two per cent. Sales of hay milk products grew by 2.3 per cent to almost 42,000 tonnes in 2015. Austrian hay milk was again marketed at 100 per cent in the previous year.