Rome - Italian cheese has never been enjoyed as much abroad as in 2017. Exports have grown by 7% compared to last year and registered an 84% increase in the last decade. This is what emerged from a report by Coldiretti, based on data collected from Istat in the first seven months of the year. Incredibly, the French have become the main consumers of Italian cheese, as exports to the most nationalist country in the world have almost doubled (up by 94%) in a decade, to the detriment of Camembert, Brie, Roquefort and other local specialties, defined by Charles De Gaulle as France's most representative products. Today according to Coldiretti Italy exports to France twice as much cheese as it imports from its cousins across the Alps; in fact, French exports have remained practically stable for a decade.
Actually, cheeses Made in Italy have conquered quite a few countries renowned for their dairy products. The Netherlands, for example, are experiencing what can only be defined as "pecorino mania", with sales up by 77% compared to last year, and a four-fold increase in the last decade. Pecorino cheese is also doing well in the homeland of Emmental cheese, as the Swiss are consuming 8% more pecorino compared to last year and 22% more in the last decade. At the same time, says Coldiretti, in Greece, where traditional feta cheese is king, apparently, they can't live without fresh Italian mozzarella, and in 2017 sales have gone up by 41%. In addition to France, which receives almost a quarter of all Italian cheese exports (23%), Italian cheese is doing well in many other countries, such as Germany, in second place on the list of Italy's best customers with 14%, the United Kingdom with 10%, the United States with 9% and Spain (5%).
On the other hand, despite registering growth, consumption in Asia remains quite modest: Japan (2%) and China (barely 1%). Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano are at the top of the list of the most popular cheeses, counting for 21% of the total exported. The list includes 51 Italian cheeses bearing quality assurance labels (DOP/IGP) recognized by the European Union, starting from Pecorino Romano, Gorgonzola and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, which all register significant export volumes.
Unfortunately, the most exported cheeses are also the most imitated and in the case of Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano sales of non-original products are even higher than those of the original products, starting from Brazilian parmesao and Argentinian reggianito, to Canadian, Australian and American parmesan. But all continents have their imitations of all Italian cheeses, and if they were seriously contrasted, Italian exports would multiply.
The success of Italian cheese abroad is just the tip of the iceberg of the growth registered in the Italian dairy sector, since on 19 April 2017 producers must indicate the origin of the milk on the label, a requirement which revitalized the marked and says Coldiretti prevented many farms from closing down.