Pasties are prepared for display at a Warrens Bakery store  2100x1400

Cornish pasties are among dozens of British foods that will be getting special protected status under a new UK-Japan agreement

Cornish pasties and Welsh lamb are among a host of British foods that are finally getting protection from imitation in Japan, three years after Liz Truss promised they would be safeguarded in her “historic” trade deal.

The UK and Japanese governments have agreed to grant special protections – also known as “geographical indication” (GI) status – to British food and drink products like Cornish pasties, Anglesey sea salt, Staffordshire cheese and Kentish ale. The move gives exporters security that their product names cannot be copied by Japanese producers.

It had been a point of contention in trade talks between the two nations since 2021, when then-international trade secretary Truss first assured exporters their goods would get GI status as part of a post-Brexit deal with the Asian nation.

A total of 37 GIs will now formally gain protection on Thursday 29 February. A second group of protections, expected to include other important British exports like Scottish wild salmon and Whitstable oysters, was set to be announced further down the line, the government said in a statement.

In exchange, the UK will also be protecting the GIs of several Japanese food and drink products, including Hokkaido wine and Hida beef.

The government said the deal was set to increase customer confidence and bolster trade between the UK and Japan.

“These additional protections will give assurance to British farmers and producers who export their unique products to Japan – and to Japanese consumers who will know they are buying the real thing,” said food and farming minister Mark Spencer.

“For UK businesses, GIs are vital for building trust and enhancing brand recognition, ultimately driving export growth and supporting the sustainability of local industries.”

Trade policy minister Greg Hands added: “This announcement not only protects beloved British delicacies like Scotch beef and Cornish pasties, but also gives UK producers added confidence when selling into Japan, part of our plan to help British businesses grow and export more.”

Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest economy, is a major player in the global trade landscape.

In the first half of 2023, the UK exported around £200m worth of food and drink goods to the Asian nation, up 8.3% from the same period the year before.

Several businesses exporting British foods welcomed the news, a significant step forward since the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement came into force on 1 January 2021.

The boss of clotted cream company Rodda’s, Nicholas Rodda, said the new protections “strengthen the authenticity of our Cornish clotted cream on a global stage and also provides opportunities for our business conversations internationally”.

AK Stoddart’s MD Grant Moir said the “brand attributes of Scotch beef has always been a major draw for the Japanese market” since the company started to supply beef to Japan in 2019.

“With the recent announcement that the GI is to be formally recognised this will only enhance and strengthen the Scotch and Stoddarts brand in Japan,” Moir added.

UK food and agricultural products that will have their GIs protected in Japan:

  • Cornish Clotted Cream
  • Cornish Pasty
  • Anglesey Sea Salt/Halen Môn
  • Arbroath Smokies
  • Conwy Mussels
  • East Kent Goldings
  • London Cure Smoked Salmon
  • Lough Neagh Eel
  • Lough Neagh Pollan
  • Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
  • Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar
  • Pembrokeshire Earlies/Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes
  • Scotch Beef
  • Scotch Lamb
  • Single Gloucester
  • Staffordshire Cheese
  • Stornoway Black Pudding
  • Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop
  • Traditional Cumberland Sausage
  • Traditional Grimsby Smoked Fish
  • Traditional Welsh Caerphilly
  • Welsh Beef
  • Welsh Lamb
  • Welsh Laverbread
  • West Country Beef
  • West Country Lamb
  • Yorkshire Wensleydale

For British meat and dairy premium exporters in particular, it is an important market with lots of potential for growth – according to AHDB, Britain exported around £12m of beef, lamb and pork to Japan in 2023.

“Japan is an important market and AHDB is committed to working with industry and UK government to develop further opportunities for our exporters”, said Phil Hadley, AHDB international market development director.

“Further to the news on GIs, we will explore opportunities for forage-fed GI West Country beef and West Country lamb in this discerning market.”

The UK government said the deal to protect foods from copycats would eventually cover more than 70 products, an increase from just seven under the EU-Japan trade agreement.