A group of UK food manufacturers is planning to establish the first-ever body to generically promote UK foods with EU food name protection.

The producers, who include the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and QMS, among others, hope to generate greater awareness of the protected food name scheme among retailers and consumers.

Promotional and marketing activity is currently carried out individually by the companies and trade associations holding protected names.

No definitive name has been decided but the group is initially being referred to as the UK Protected Food Names Association. Its formation will be approved at a meeting on 16 February. "The idea is to increase the size of the cake rather than just once slice of it," said project leader Matthew O'Callaghan, chairman of the MMPPA.

Britain's food heritage was experiencing a rebirth and UK consumers were becoming increasingly aware of protected name products from other countries following the EC's ruling that protected products must display a logo, he said. "The group's idea is to say to people: 'be proud of what we've got to offer, we're as good as them'."

Details of how the new body's promotional activities will be funded have still to be decided, but it is exploring the possibility of accessing EC cash. Activities, which are expected to include the creation of a website, were also likely to be partially funded by members, with fees based on turnover.

Currently Britain only has 40 protected food names, with a combined sales value of some £1bn. That figure could double in 10 to 20 years, said O'Callaghan, as there were many more products that could be registered.

Meanwhile, the EC is in negotiations with authorities in Switzerland regarding the potential registration of a variety of fresh foods under the protected name scheme. Swiss producers have submitted 22 products, including Gruyère cheese and St Gallen Bratwurst.