Northern Foods will continue its legal battle for the right to produce Melton Mowbray pork pies across the UK. 

The food company will apply to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against a High Court ruling made in December 2005. The ruling, made by Mr Justice Crane, stated Defra’s application to restrict production of Melton Mowbray’s pork pies would not be quashed and the group could continue its approval process through the European Commission to achieve PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status.

Defra’s application, which was initiated by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, would restrict production of the pies to an area of 1,800 square miles of the East Midlands which includes Leicester, Nottingham and Northampton.  Northern Foods has argued that this is an artificially large zone. 

Northern Foods has been making Melton Mowbray pork pies for over a hundred years in Wiltshire, Shropshire and originally in Birmingham. 

Northern Foods company secretary Carol Williams said: “We believe that the EU legislation, as it currently stands, is poorly defined and has allowed the biggest player in the market to cynically manipulate the law at the expense of consumers and the food industry. This is not in the spirit of the EU legislation, which is supposed to protect traditional recipes and rural industries. The ruling should be an area of real concern for the UK food industry.”

 Northern Foods also said Defra has given no indication of the length of transitional period it will grant to businesses affected by the ruling, which is still subject to approval by the European Commission.