Prosciutto di Parma’s Journey to Becoming a Protected Name


Nine months ago, when the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada was approved, Prosciutto di Parma was granted authority to take full hold of its name in Canada under the protection of Geographical Indications — a major milestone for the brand and others.

According to Stefano Fanti, director of the Consortium of Prosciutto di Parma, the process was lengthy but worthwhile. “We are so pleased to be able to finally offer Canadian consumers our premium product, under the correct designation, and provide some clarity regarding the quality and origin of the prosciutto they purchase.”

The secret of Parma Ham has always been in its simplicity. Tradition dictates that only four ingredients can be used in creating Prosciutto di Parma — specially raised Italian pigs, sea salt, air and time. For centuries, the 100-per-cent natural ham has been produced this way, with the utmost respect, tradition and excellence.

More than 20 years ago, the Consorzio Del Prosciutto di Parma, the organization responsible for protecting and promoting Prosciutto di Parma throughout the world, began the process of bringing the authentic product to Canadian consumers. They were immediately faced with a challenge when they learned the name Prosciutto di Parma was already being used by Maple Leaf Foods, forcing the real Parma Ham from Italy to be sold in Canada under the names “The Original Prosciutto” and “Le Jambon Original.”

It was the beginning of a 20-year-long legal battle to hold onto their heritage and secure their official name. For some, the idea that a name would be important enough to warrant a mountain of legal fees seems excessive, however, to Prosciutto di Parma, it has always been about more than a name. It means securing and protecting a tradition that has remained true for centuries, and providing Canadian consumers with greater clarity and transparency regarding how and where their food is made.

Today, Canadian consumers can find the authentic, 100-per-cent natural ham at local retailers across the country under the correct designation, Prosciutto di Parma, and featuring the distinctive Parma Crown — a guarantee of authenticity branded on every leg and pre-sliced pack of Prosciutto di Parma.

“We are looking towards the future optimistically, focused on educating consumers and retailers on the ‘Parma difference’ — from the rich history of the product, to the time-honoured tradition of curation and production, to best practices for slicing and serving — our goal is to re-introduce Canadians to the real Prosciutto di Parma and offer an authentic, premium experience from start to finish,” says Fanti.

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