In the face of the international financial crisis, Italy faces a unique problem all its own. Producers of the esteemed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese are facing soaring production costs and declining prices dictated by large supermarkets, resulting in thirty percent of local producers teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. These producers have turned to the Italian government with a plea to raise prices, using the government’s recent bailout of the Italian airline Alitalia as precedent for intervention.
According to an article in Reuters, Giorgio Apostoli of farmers group Coldiretti said, "The wholesale price of Parmiggiano Reggiano has now fallen below the cost of producing it. This is a prized product, there ought to be policies to safeguard those who produce it."
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, made in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, specifically in the towns of Parma and Reggio Emilia that provide its name, is considered a symbol of culture, gastronomy, and deep-rooted Italian tradition. Often imitated, Italy’s original “King of Cheese” has rigorous standards and specific laws limiting the provinces in which this cheese can legally be produced.
An essential ingredient in recipes such as risotto al funghi, and a delicious finishing touch on almost any pasta dish, two pounds of real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese requires four gallons of top-quality whole cow milk, and bears the traditional inscription “Parmigiano Reggiano” impressed along the side of the barrel.
Considering Italy’s dedication to high-quality, time-honored products, this situation is being considered with the utmost importance by both the government and the opposition in order to find a timely resolution agreeable to all parties involved.
© Restaurant Agent Inc.