Norwegian dried cod wins 'Champagne status'
A Norwegian delicacy has won the same exalted status as Champagne, Parma ham, and Feta cheese under European Union rules, with "Tørrfisk fra Lofoten" on Wednesday receiving a 'protected designation of origin'.
The status bans producers in other regions from applying the label to their own goods, protecting prices from local producers.
The air-dried cod, which has been produced in the Lofoten and Vesterålen islands in far northern Norway since the early 12th century, was one of Norway's earliest exports.
"This is absolutely stunning," said Nina Wærnes Hegdahl, the head of Matmerk, an independent agency promoting Norwegian food. "This is a milestone for Norway and a breakthrough for dried fish. This is the strongest protection a food product can get."
Tørrfisk producer Olaf Johan Pedersen told NRK that the label would make a big difference to the market, particularly in Italy, where a product's origin is important.
"This is huge. I do not think people in Norway are aware of how important this labelling is in Europe," he said. "Tørrfisk's new status will be noticed, especially in Italy. The Labelling scheme is a recognition that the product is special and has a special and unique history. This is a great opportunity to market Tørrfisk."