U.S. consumers snap up Italian Parmesan before tariffs hit | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

U.S. consumers snap up Italian Parmesan before tariffs hit

Associated Press
1794962_web1_1794962-5e3924ebd5c04daca18d00d85c6df404
AP
Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese wheels are stored in Noceto, near Parma, Italy. U.S. consumers are snapping up Italian Parmesan cheese ahead of an increase in tariffs to take effect next week.
1794962_web1_1794962-fbd2de4e765d474b85d20970473af477
AP
Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese wheels are stored in Noceto, near Parma, Italy. U.S. consumers are snapping up Italian Parmesan cheese ahead of an increase in tariffs to take effect next week.

MILAN — U.S. consumers who appreciate the tang of aged Italian Parmesan cheese as an aperitif or atop their favorite pasta dish are stocking up ahead of next week’s tariff hike and as dairy producers in the two countries square off.

The Italian agricultural lobby Coldiretti said Friday that sales of both Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, aged cheeses with a distinctive granular quality that are defined by their territory of origin, have skyrocketed in the United States by 220% since the higher tariffs were announced one week ago.

The new tariffs — up from $2.15 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) to around $6 a kilogram — take effect Oct. 18. Parmesan cheese is on a long list of EU products targeted by the Trump administration for retaliatory tariffs approved by the World Trade Organization for illegal EU subsidies to aviation giant Airbus.

Coldiretti says American consumers as a result will pay over $45 a kilogram, instead of $40 — which is expected to hurt sales in the U.S., the second-largest export market after France.

Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese consortium, says the tariffs threaten the economic health of 330 small dairy producers in the area around Parma and the 50,000 people who work in the production supply chain.

“I believe that … Europe has understood that this is a commercial attack,” Bertinelli told the Associated Press this week.

The consortium produces 3.7 million Parmesan wheels a year, each weighing an average of 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and aged from more than 18 months to over 30 months.

Parmigiano Reggiano is produced in a defined territory from the Apennine mountains to the Po River from the milk of 250,000 cows raised in the same territory to earn its “protected designation origin,” a labor give to specialty foods from a specific geographic region.

The U.S. National Milk Producers Federation has welcomed the tariffs on the Italian cheese, saying U.S. producers have been improperly blocked from selling their “common name” Parmesan in Europe, contributing to a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with the EU.

The milk producers’ lobby said the use of “geographic indication,” like Parmigiano Reggiano, has been “abused” to limit competition of cheese imports from the United States into the EU. It argues that Europe should allow the “high-quality American-made foods” using common names to compete next to the products certified with “protected origin” names.

But Italy’s agriculture minister, Teresa Bellanova, vowed to protect Italian businesses against imports of what she sees as copy-cat products.

“Hands off our names, enough identity theft,” Bellanova said last week. “U.S. producers want to upend reality and use common names to sell their products in Europe. If their project is to sell fake Parmesan or mozzarella in Europe, we have to make clear it will never happen.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.