Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium reports record export levels

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Despite challenges presented by the global coronavirus pandemic and tariffs imposed by the United States in October 2019, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium has reported record numbers in production and exports of the cheese.

The consortium reported 3.75 million wheels of cheese (about 150,000 tons) were produced in 2019, the highest peak in the age-old history of Parmigiano Reggiano; production rose from 3.47 million three years ago, an increase of 8.1%. 

Already, in early 2020, the group said sales volumes for the cheese are up more than 20%.

When tariffs were imposed in late 2019, the consortium said prices suffered an abrupt decline below 10 euro for whole milk, but cheese production still registered a growth. Export of the cheese was up 4.3% compared to the year before. France lead with 21% of overall export and the United States was close behind with 20.9% of export totals. Germany exported 17.8%, the U.K. (12.3%) and Canada (3.9%). Compared to 2018, the United States was up nearly 13% in its exports in 2019.

In late April, the consortium made news when it had Campbell’s remove images from certain labels of its Prego jars that it said misappropriated the certified Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

However, because the dairy market expects a decline, the consortium said it fears exports and orders could decline overall in 2020. The wholesale price (average price of 12 month Parmigiano Reggiano from producing dairy) at present has settled around 8 euro per kg versus 10.75 euro of 2019.

“Our work goes on,” said Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium. “We revised the 2020 marketing plan in light of all the limitations we are experiencing due to the lockdown and in consideration of the coming phases of this slow return to normal. We will also need measures to contain production that is growing too much.”

He continued to say that they’re monitoring the COVID-19 market. “We immediately geared up to continue our quality controls to safeguard and protect consumers,” he said. “We also continue our control activities on the markets with special focus on protection at the international level. After the successes of New Zealand and China in 2019, we defeated the giant Campbell, which is now forced to remove references to PDO from its products’ labels.”