Parmigiano Reggiano: protecting an authentic Italian icon

11 August 2021, 08:00 AM
  • ‘Italian sounding’ products are worth €100 billion worldwide, and in the UK Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the most affected products
Parmigiano Reggiano: protecting an authentic Italian icon

Have you ever seen ‘parmesan’ or ‘Italian-style cheese’ on the supermarket shelves when shopping?

If you think these products are authentic Italian, you should first check the labels. You might find out that they were produced in other countries, or with non-Italian ingredients. When these products are created to look like they are Made in Italy, they belong to the ‘Italian-sounding’ category.

Every year, Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano, which was created to safeguard the product and promote its consumption, inspects thousands of points of sale to evaluate whether the product was counterfeited. As the Court of Justice of the European Union pointed out in 2008, only Parmigiano Reggiano bearing the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) can be sold under the name ‘parmesan’ in the European Union. This way, Italian producers can be protected, and consumers can easily trace back what they buy.

The British market
Parmigiano Reggiano had a record year in 2019, with a 1.47% increase in production compared to 2018 and 3.75 million cheese wheels produced, for a total value of €2.6 billion.

Looking at market shares, the UK is the fourth-largest export market for Parmigiano Reggiano. In terms of recognition of PDO designations, nothing changed in the UK after Brexit, as Parmigiano Reggiano was registered in the UK as well. The product will continue being safeguarded.

Conscious consumption
The project True Italian Taste was created to promote authentic Italian produce abroad. As part of the government programme The Extraordinary Italian Taste, the project is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and realised thanks to Assocamerestero.

In the UK, the project is coordinated by the Italian Chamber of Commerce for the UK, which organises events to safeguard authentic Italian food and drink products. Through these activities, which can be addressed at media influencers, journalists, buyers and consumers, the Chamber of Commerce supports Italian producers of niche, high-quality and certified products.

Encouraging a conscious consumption of Made in Italy products is one way to combat the diffusion of the ‘Italian sounding’ phenomenon, which has reached a value of €100 billion worldwide. In the UK, the most affected products are Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and olive oil.

Italy has more than 300 food products and 500 wines recognised with PDO, PGI, and TSG denominations, and it is a leading country for food and wine excellences. The full list of the denominations can be found on the website of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.

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