Lakeland Herdwick meat, already prized for its distinctive flavour, has been awarded Protected Designation of Origin status. The meat joins the likes of Champagne, Parma ham and the Cornish pasty as a quality product from a particular place, with a name protected by law.
The application for PDO status was submitted by the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association, which registered as a co-operative in 2011. PDOs promote products with specific characteristics from less-favoured or rural areas. The aim is to improve farmers’ income in return for a "genuine effort to improve quality", as well as to retain rural populations and provide clear, succinct information to consumers regarding product origin.
Herdwick sheep grow slowly, feeding on the flora of the fells. This produces a gamey, strong-flavoured, tender meat. As Amanda Carson, secretary of the HSBA explains, the PDO will promote Lakeland Herdwick meat, protect consumers and help conserve a unique environment.
“Recent food scares have highlighted the importance that consumers know where their food comes from,” she said. “The PDO status provides assurance that the Herdwick meat they are buying is a quality product, genuinely produced by Cumbrian shepherds to high standards of animal welfare.
“Eating Herdwick meat sustains the Lake District landscape, as it has done for thousands of years.”