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16 October 2013, 10:53
Fenland Celery has been given the same EU legal protection as Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Parma Ham.
It joins other foods given the Protected Geographical Indication status, which protects from imitations.
Fenland Celery now joins other products including Champagne, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Champagne in receiving the award.
The ruling means that food producers elsewhere now cannot describe their products as Fenland Celery.
It's hoped the status will also help to publicise the celery's 'nutty-sweet' flavour.
According to G's Fresh, which produces Fenland Celery, the main variety of Fenland Celery grown by this method is Dwarf White.
This was developed in the Fens more than 100 years ago.
The shorter stems are said to give more leaf, which can be used for extra flavour in stocks, soups and stews.
Anthony Gardiner, Marketing Director for G’s Fresh, said: "We brought Fenland celery back into commercial production in 2000, but it’s been difficult to convey to shoppers what makes it such a premium product.
We hope that gaining PGI status will raise the profile of this heritage variety and draw attention both to what makes it so different and the special way it’s grown.
There’s no doubt Fenland celery will always be a niche product.
It is an extremely labour intensive crop with low yields because of the traditional way it’s farmed, but given the increasing demand for products with provenance and flavour and the growing interest in reviving traditional food varieties and production methods demonstrated by programmes like the Great British Food Revival, we feel that now more than ever it’s really important to keep such a strong Fenland tradition alive.
And while some PGI products have encountered criticism from parties who feel geographical location doesn’t necessarily guarantee taste, flavour or uniqueness, the area Fenland celery is produced in, and more importantly the deep peaty Fen soils in which the celery grows, is actually crucial to its flavour."
Food Minister George Eustice said: "Earning a protected food name for Fenland Celery is a real boost for East of England growers.
They will now be able to trade the product with an authenticity guarantee that sets it apart from its competitors.
We will continue to support all efforts to protect the authenticity of British food and help our businesses grow on the back of its worldwide reputation for quality and taste."
Fenland celery is available in Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.