Parmigiano-Reggiano: dairies helping neighbouring dairies


Reggio Emilia, Italy, May 24, 2012 - While the activities of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium are continuing and intensifying to ensure rapid response in support of the dairies affected by the May 20 earthquake (dealing with damage to facilities, the product and ensuing unexpected financial problems), the situation regarding wheels that may have been damaged by the earthquake is becoming increasingly clear.

Before coming to damage assessment, it is important to underline the extraordinary outpouring of neighbourly support provided by the majority of the Consortium’s dairies to those dealing with the consequences of the earthquake.

Wheels that fell down but have not been damaged are being recovered and will continue their maturation in other facilities made available thanks to effective work by the Consortium’s sections and the extraordinary support of other dairies.

The Consortium wishes to thank all those who have expressed their sympathy with Parmigiano-Reggiano producers, and especially those Consortium dairies who have offered help to the Consortium and their fellow dairies in Modena, Bologna and Mantua in such a difficult time.
This is also clear evidence that farmers and dairies are used to rolling up their sleeves and helping one another without a second thought, certainly upholding the public measures that have to be adopted in emergency situations like this, but also proving their cohesion and mutual support, in line with the traditional nobility that Parmigiano-Reggiano expresses and is proud of.

The Consortium wishes to express the same gratitude to all those who have shown their confidence in it for its managing of serious situations, which have unfortunately also given rise to attempts at speculation that are thus far being prevented.

As to the damage, it has been confirmed that 300,000 wheels fell to the ground, and half of these are estimated to have been damaged due to splitting of the rind.

Undamaged wheels are being recovered and will continue their maturation, as mentioned above, in other facilities.

Damaged wheels are currently being sorted and the ones that had already been fire-branded as Parmigiano Reggiano with over 12 months’ maturation (the PDO quality control is performed when the cheese has been matured for 12 months), after the required assessment and health authorization, will be marketed as Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cheeses under 12 months and not yet fire-branded, which cannot continue maturation because the rind has cracked, will be sorted and stored in refrigerated warehouses to be used as an ingredient in industrial food preparations or for the production of melted cheese.

With regard to the rumours about possible speculation, it must be pointed out that the damaged wheels (about 150,000, as stated above) represent only 5% of annual production (the wheels produced in 2011 were 3,231,915).

Only one dairy had to stop production completely and their milk is now being processed in other facilities. The other dairies affected (about ten out of 380) are in a position to continue production. In reality, the most serious damage was the collapse of the shelving in the maturing facilities of these dairies, and in some facilities that provide maturation services to third parties. This accounts for the high number of wheels involved.

Some dairy farms have also been affected, but swift reaction by producers has allowed milk production to continue.

In spite of the extensive damage to facilities and the loss of a large number of wheels, a great effort is under way to ensure daily production and processing of milk; as far as consumers as concerned, supplies to retailers will continue regularly.