Applications to grant European Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status to North Ronaldsay Wool and North Ronaldsay Mutton were launched this week in Kirkwall.
If successful, the wool and mutton, which are native to the island of North Ronaldsay, will join a growing list of popular iconic Scottish products with European protected status, including Orkney Island Cheddar, Scotch Beef, Arbroath Smokies, and Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop Cheddar.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead welcomed the applications from A Yarn From North Ronaldsay and the North Ronaldsay Sheep Court, commenting:
“Scotland is world-famous for our wonderful produce, and people want to know they are buying the real deal. Achieving PGI status for both North Ronaldsay Wool and Mutton will ensure that consumers at home and abroad have a one hundred per cent guarantee of the product’s authenticity.
“We have a growing number of Scottish products which are protected under EU Legislation and free from imitation. It’s very encouraging to see that more producers – and not just food producers – are now taking the initiative to apply for this status. It guarantees the product’s provenance and supports local producers. This scheme benefits brands synonymous with Scotland and I would urge others to look at taking this forward.”
Native North Ronaldsay wool and mutton must come from pure bred North Ronaldsay native breed sheep, reared on the island. The sheep live on the foreshore of the island, and are clipped between June and August which is done by hand clipping, rooing or mechanical shearing.
North Ronaldsay mutton is held in the same regard as Italian prosciutto ham, truffles and caviar, thanks to its lean meat and unique gamey flavour.
Jane Donnelly, owner of A Yarn From North Ronaldsay, said: “Gaining PGI status would help justify the effort of a single remote community over hundreds, if not thousands, of years in maintaining this breed against all odds to the present day. The characteristics of the wool in both quality and natural colours are rapidly becoming renowned due to a keen network of fibre enthusiasts throughout the world. The PGI application will help to highlight this unique breed of sheep and so ensure for generations to come their continued survival.”
Dr Kevin Woodbridge, Clerk to the North Ronaldsay Sheep Court, said: “It is the unique foreshore environment and the husbandry of the flock by North Ronaldsay islanders over generations that has created this breed. This cannot be replicated elsewhere and it is essential for the producers and consumers alike that the genuine product is guaranteed by the Protected Food Name status.”