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Italian cheese exports beat record
September 22, 2015
Exports of Italian cheese and dairy products rose by 8 percent in the first half of 2015, due to their international reputation for top quality. So says an analysis by farmers' association Coldiretti published at Cheese 2015, organised by Slow Food and the Piedmont town of Bra. About three-quarters of exported products are for the EU market, where there was an increase of 10 percent, and even 2 percent in traditional competitor France. Outside Europe the main buyers are in the United States, with an 18 percent increase, but Italian produce is also going down well in China, with a 39 percent rise. Encouraging results have been bolstered by a rise in the number of cheeses with 'protected designation of origin' (PDO). Italy now has 48, overtaking France's 45 to become world leader in quality dairy production, according to Italian News Agency AGI.
If France's Charles De Gaulle wondered how it was possible to govern a country with more cheeses than days in the year, the situation would certainly not have looked easier in Italy, which has 487 cheeses in addition to the PDOs. They account for about half the milk produced by Italian farms - 45.5 percent, or approximately 50 million quintals. Italy's advantage over France is even more striking in terms of quantity: double the PDO output (almost to 500 million kilos); more cheese moving from Italy to France, and less the other way. Yet Italians lie only seventh in the world for per capita cheese consumption: 20.7 kilograms per person per year, beaten by France, Iceland, Finland, Germany, Estonia and Switzerland. And there is concern about the quality of non-PDO cheeses sold in Italy, with almost half the mozzarella being made with foreign cow's milk or curds, coming from uncontrolled, even unknown producers abroad, AGI reported.