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From Ossau and Iraty to PDO Ossau-Iraty: the long-term construction of a product based on two distinct places

Abstract : Purpose The purpose of this paper is to understand how a geographical indication (GI) is built through time and how its (non)appropriation by local producers shapes it. The reciprocity of such process is also considered: how the creation of a GI changes local relationships between producers, within the GI and out of it? The case of Ossau-Iraty is relevant: in south-west of France, this protected designation of origin (PDO) has been based on two distinct regions: Bearn (Ossau) and Pays Basque (Iraty). Since then, most producers of Bearn have rejected this PDO. Design/methodology/approach The author adopts a diachronic perspective: the trajectory of the local dairy ewe sector is described, focusing on the trajectory of on-farm cheese makers from Bearn and Pays Basque and the trajectory of Ossau-Iraty. Based on different methods (qualitative interviews and archive research), this paper aims at analyzing the interactions within such heterogeneous networks. Findings When the PDO was created (1980), the opposition between producers of Bearn and Pays Basque was based on strong senses of place, which would be translated in a different perception of tradition: to Bearn producers, PDO Ossau-Iraty would be an industrial cheese, in which they did not recognize their product and themselves. With time, the producers who have been involved in the PDO worked on its specifications. The recognition of symbolic practices such as on-farm production or Summer pasture production, the recognition of differences between Basque cheese and Bearn cheese are changes that contribute to the evolution of perceptions within the local producers’ community. The author observes a recent convergence between Basque producers and Bearn producers, as their distinct products share common and strong qualifications within PDO Ossau-Iraty that contribute to their respective valorization. However, it seems to occur at an institutional level and the adhesion of the local producers might still be at stakes. Research limitations/implications A statistical study could reinforce the author’s exploratory and historical research. Furthermore, it would have been relevant to take local inhabitants and local consumers into account, as they have participated in the products’ qualifications as well. Originality/value A long-term analysis (40 years) contributes to better understand how cheeses are valorized and how such process is based on controversial processes. It contributes to root GIs into local histories, which are nor as consensual neither as uniform as we would primarily think, and to identity levers for sustainable local development.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 10:29:16 PM
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Morgane Millet. From Ossau and Iraty to PDO Ossau-Iraty: the long-term construction of a product based on two distinct places. British Food Journal, Emerald, 2019, 121 (12), pp.3062-3075. ⟨10.1108/BFJ-10-2018-0719⟩. ⟨hal-02628205⟩



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