Popular dairy product to be renamed to fit EU norms

It's not so long ago that Czechs had to get used to a new name of a traditional alcoholic beverage, when what for generations was called "rum" was renamed "tuzemak" - short for "tuzemsky rum" or "domestic rum". That was because of EU regulations stipulating that only spirits distilled from sugar-cane can be called rum. Now it appears that a popular dairy product, traditionally marketed under the name Pomazankove maslo, a kind of fresh tasting creamy cheese, will have to change its name, too.

This time, the bone of contention is the word "maslo" or "butter" in the name of the product. Under EU norms, anything called butter must contain at least 80 percent of butterfat. The Czech "pomazankove maslo" does not qualify as it contains only between 30 and 40 percent of butterfat. Besides butterfat, or milkfat, the product, traditionally sold in soft plastic tubs, contains dried milk, starch and water. The country's dairies are up in arms - the cost of new packaging alone is estimated at 20 million crowns (almost a million US dollars).

Petr Marek is the director of Chocen dairy company, one of the country's leading producers of "pomazankove maslo".

"Pomazankove maslo has been produced in this country for some thirty years and has an important place among dairy products on the market. The volume of production is around a quarter of all butters. The fact that pomazankove maslo doesn't fit in the butter category because of its fat content is crucial for our company. If we change the name, we will confuse our customers who are used to the traditional name. The renaming will bring increased costs and also the danger of losing our customers at a time when competition is really tough."

The annual production of pomazankove maslo has reached 10,000 tonnes in the Czech Republic and consumption is still growing. It now appears the change is inevitable and the word "maslo" or "butter" will have to be left out of the name of the product as of 2008. The Agriculture Ministry tried to push through the name "Smetanova pomazanka" or "cream spread" in Brussels but failed. The popular dairy product will most probably be called "Mlecna pomazanka" or "milk spread". Petr Marek from the Chocen dairy company says they still have not decided on a new name for their "pomazankove maslo". He says they will trust customers to stick to the product regardless of the name.