The biodiversity

The differences that make it unique

Its uniqueness lies in its origin, its diversity in its history, and its value lies in its knowledge.

Land and biodiversity

Italian Frisona

This is the most common breed among Parmigiano Reggiano producers. Imported from Holland, it is known as Friesian because the original stock is found in the Dutch region of Friesland. The first cattle were brought to Italy at the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, cattle from Italian breeding farms were introduced and the breed, now acclimated, became known for to its high productivity thus becoming the most widespread milk-producing breed in Italy and in the Parmigiano Reggiano area of origin.

White Modenese

This is a triple-attitude breed, as in the past it provided considerable help in the fields as well as in the production of milk and meat. It derives from golden-coated cattle, similar to the Reggio Red cow, cross-bred with grey cattle of the Podolic group. Its milk is particularly suitable for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano and for cheese making, thanks to the optimum ratio between fat and protein percentages, and to the high content of K-casein, that favours a fast and more lasting milk curdling. It is a Slow Food presidium.

Brown Cow

The introduction of the brown breed in the Parma area dates back to the mid-18th century, even though 16th and 17th century documents already mention cattle with a brown coat. These were probably of Swiss origin and brought over from Lombardy. These cows proved valuable because they were rural and meek, suited to work in the fields. Over the years, the brown breed became known for its production of milk, whose rheological characteristics make it highly suitable for cheese-making thanks to its high casein and fat content.

Vacche Rosse

Until just after the Second World War, there were cows with a reddish coat in the traditional barns of courtyard farms. These served a triple purpose. The breed dates back to the year 1000, probably in Pannonia, today’s Hungary. Its milk is rich in protein - in particular casein - calcium, and phosphorous, and it has optimal cheese making characteristics: the right amount of cream rises to the surface, the milk clots quickly, the curd is firm and elastic and the dairy yield is high. The Reggiana Breed Association has established that 24 months is the minimum maturation time for this cheese.

The Maturation

The minimum maturation is 12 months (the longest minimum maturation for any PDO cheese), but Parmigiano Reggiano reaches a degree of maturation that fully expresses its typical characteristics at approximately 24 months. It can mature for up to 36, 48 months or longer, acquiring unexpected and unparalleled flavours and aromas. In maturation, thanks to the action of the enzymes released by lactic bacteria, proteins are broken down into smaller pieces, free peptides and amino acids - the basic bricks of the protein chain. This action of protein breakdown (proteolysis) determines the structure and sensory properties of Parmigiano Reggiano and its high digestibility.

12 -19 months

It has a balanced taste and delicate flavour with hints of milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit. It is particularly suitable for aperitifs paired with sparkling white wines, or to enrich salads and cold dishes.

20 -26 months

It is soluble, crumbly and grainy with the right balance between mildness and tastiness, with notes of fresh fruit, nuts and meat stock. Perfect with medium body wines and to add flavour to all the dishes of the Italian tradition.

27 -34 months

It is particularly crumbly and grainy. The flavour is pronounced with notes of spices, nuts and meat stock. It is an ideal ingredient for filled and baked pastas or to be tasted at the end of meals, paired with fruit and honey.

35-45 months

It has passed the test of time and releases pleasant scents of spices. It is an exclusive gift and a pleasant companion to be tasted with structured and medited wines.


Mountain product

In 2013, the EU Regulation no. 1151/12 introduced the denomination “Mountain Product” to identify food products coming from mountain areas in the European Union.

Parmigiano Reggiano is the most important PDO product made in the mountains, with over 110 dairies located in the mountains and over 1,200 cattle farmers. In order to further support sustainability in mountain areas and to offer guarantees that include, the quality of the cheese, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium has launched “Quality Project - Mountain Product.” The requirements for obtaining this certification are:

  • 100% of milk produced in barns must be located in mountain areas
  • Over 60% of the cattle feed must be grown in mountain areas
  • There must be a dairy and maturation stage of at least 12 months, in mountain areas
  • At 24 months, a "hammer" evaluation must be carried out by Consortium experts
  • Sensory evaluation (tasting group) and chemical composition analysis

Consult the list of participating dairies.


Kosher-certified Parmigiano Reggiano, for observing Jews, is made during all stages of production, from milking to cutting, in accordance with kashrut, the Jewish religious dietary rules derived from the Torah. The production phases are overseen by a rabbi and checked by the Ok Kosher Certification, one of the most accredited and recognized kosher certification agencies in the world.


Halal Parmigiano Reggiano follows both PDO production specifications and the directions of Islamic regulations concerning “permissible food” according to the Koran. The certification, which makes the product suitable for the Islamic market, entails full product traceability and monitoring of all production phases.


Parmigiano Reggiano from organic farming entails full product traceability at all production phases and certification according to the legal requirements for organic farming production.