Raclette to remain exclusive to Valais

Raclette is set to become exclusive to the canton of Valais Keystone

The rights to the name of one of Switzerland’s most popular and famous cheeses - Raclette – have been given exclusively to its home canton of Valais.

This content was published on November 4, 2003 - 16:06

The decision has caused upset in the world of cheese making, with companies who make Raclette outside Valais saying they will appeal against it.

Raclette is the key ingredient in one of Switzerland’s best-loved dishes. The cheese is melted under a special grill and eaten with potatoes and pickles.

But the cheese has been at the centre of a long-standing row in Switzerland about the rights to its name.

On Tuesday, the Federal Agriculture Office announced that the rights to the name of Raclette belonged to Valais and registered it as a Protected Denomination of Origin – a label given to guarantee the authenticity of regional specialities and usually known by its French acronym AOC.

500 years old

The Federal Agriculture Office justified its decision by saying that Raclette, whose name comes from the French world “racler” meaning to scrape, had been documented in Valais as far back as 1574.

It added that according to its own survey, 43 per cent of the population associated Raclette with its place of origin.

Valais Raclette producers welcomed the news, saying only products from their canton were authentic because they were made in small farms from unpasteurised milk.

“Our product should stay authentic. It has nothing to do with the pseudo product from the Swiss Raclette Association [Raclette makers outside Valais],” Alphonse Jacquier, president of the Valais Dairy Association, told Swiss television.


But opponents of the move – over 50 cheese makers from outside Valais, including several foreign companies - had argued that Raclette was a term applied to a type of cheese rather than a particular cheese made in Valais.

The Swiss Raclette Association, which groups together Raclette producers from outside Valais and includes major dairy companies such as Emmi, has already announced its intention to appeal against the decision.

The Association said that the move discriminated against non-Valais Raclette makers, who produce an estimated 87 per cent of the cheese in Switzerland and added that it was unfair that the ruling didn’t apply to European competitors.

The Association can first appeal to the Economics Ministry – for which it has 30 days - and then to the Federal Court, Switzerland’s highest court.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Federal Agriculture Office has given the rights to the name of Raclette to Valais and has registered the cheese as a Protected Denomination of Origin.

The decision has disappointed non-Valais Raclette makers who argued Raclette referred to a type of cheese.

They have announced that they will appeal against the decision.

Only 13% of Raclette is made in Valais.

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