The protection of geographical indications (European regulation 1151/2012) is arguably the most significant initiative, certainly within Europe, that promotes foods with territorial associations and reorganises agri-food chain governance through a strategy of reterritorialisation. Research on Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) suggests that they generate significant economic value at an EU-level, especially in certain countries. They can also help to deliver territorial rural development policy and develop new food markets. In this paper we examine the way the PDO scheme has been developed and applied in one commodity sector (cheese) in two countries (Switzerland and the UK), where the uptake of PDOs is variable. We adopt a food chain approach and examine specific cheese product case studies (at micro and meso levels) in both countries to better understand how the PDO scheme (as a territorialisation and respacing strategy) is implemented. L’Etivaz and Le Gruyère are examined in Switzerland. Single Gloucester and West Country cheddar are examined in the UK. The PDO scheme is an important governance strategy and regulatory system, but despite strict guidelines regarding implementation and geographical infrastructure there are notable differences between the UK and Switzerland in terms of how the label is used to organise and respatialise food chains: it is framed as a strategy to protect the rural economy in Switzerland but is promoted more as a mechanism to communicate and reconnect with consumers in the UK.
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