NEWS » Italy to defy EU to protect cheese trade?

Italy to defy EU to protect cheese trade?

Italy is the European leader in the world's dairy production but its’ position is threatened by the legalisation of cheeses made with milk powder imposed to Italy by the EU. For this reason the Italian Government has recently declared it will not respect the EU regulation on the legalisation of the use of milk powder.

According to an analysis of Coldiretti, disclosed during “Cheese 2015”, organised by Slow Food and the town of Brà, exports abroad of cheese and dairy products made in Italy increased by 8% due to the high quality reputation gained internationally.

About 3/4 of the production exported are destined to the EU market, which recorded an increase of 10%, with even a slight increase of 2% in France, traditional Italian competitor. Outside Europe the main buyers are the United States, where the increase was 18%, but the Italian productions are also strong in China (+ 39%).


Encouraging results are also favoured by the large number of protected designation of origin (PDO) cheeses, protected by the European Union. There are 48 in Italy, overtaking France with 45. Italy is now the European leader in the world's dairy production with 487 cheeses in addition to those PDO to which is destined almost half of the milk delivered from Italian farms (45.5% for about 50 million tons).


The Italian production is close to 500 million kg, almost twice the French one, and the exportation of French cheeses in Italy were down slightly in the first half of 2015. Despite these productive primates, Italians, with 20.7 kg per person per year, are only 7th in the world for consumption of cheese, preceded by France with 25.9 kg per person, as well as Iceland, Finland, Germany, Estonia and Switzerland. 


The Italian record is put at risk by the diktat of the European Union, which wants to impose on Italy to liberalise the use of powdered milk in cheeses, up to now prohibited by a national law.

In September, the ultimatum set by the EU expired. It had requested Italy to put an end to the ban on use of milk powder, condensed milk and reconstituted milk for the manufacture of dairy products.
Cheese made with powder might attempt to the surviving of the 487 traditional cheeses listed by the Italian regions and obtained through methods remained unchanged for many generations. 


The president Matteo Renzi and the Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina

have signed an agreement, the so called “patto salva formaggio” in the presence of 30.000 farmers, during Expo, insisting on their “no” to the introduction of powder milk in the production of cheese. 

Giulia Lombardo

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