Italian cheese, plenty of choices for all

A journey across the flavors of the peninsula which many consumers in the world like to happily indulge in, as shown by the steady growth in exports
Italian cheese, plenty of choices for all

The Italian dairy sector boasts over 500 different varieties of Italian cheese. This means one could even enjoy a different kind of cheese for every day of the year.

“Free from” cheese

Also in the dairy sector, consumers are looking for products that meet specific dietary requirements. Lactose, fat, and sodium may discourage those with special dietary needs from eating cheese.


In addition to lactose-free cheese (with the lactose content reduced through the use of technology), the Italian dairy sector offers several cheese types with reduced lactose (achieved through standard processing). Thanks to recent legislation, two labels can be found on the products: “naturally lactose-free” and “naturally low in lactose”. The first includes seasoned cheese, such as Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano, whose lactose content is less than 0.1%, while in the second are cheese types, such as PDO Asiago or PDO Gorgonzola, in which lactose is reduced by the use of lactic bacteria.


The rather vague “light” label normally refers to the fat content. The Italian market offers those consumers who want to reduce their fat intake a wide choice of cheese types – also top quality products – with reduced fat content. It is worth pointing out though that fat is an essential ingredient of cheese, therefore the word “light” must always be put into context. Compared to standard cheese, light cheese has a reduced fat content.


As per sodium, finding cheese that is completely salt-free is rather difficult. Salt, in addition to milk and rennet, is often the “only ingredient” included in the traditional production techniques of many cheeses. Moreover, it is also allowed by specifications of protected products.


Concerning gluten, traditional cheese is naturally free of such protein, and thus it is usually suitable for those suffering from celiac disease. As for processed cheese, such as those melted, sliced, and the spreadable kinds, gluten may be present in the form of a thickener.


Top 5 productions: it’s a win for PDOs

PDO Grana Padano

185,873 tonnes

PDO Parmigiano Reggiano

139,685 tonnes

PDO Gorgonzola

59,974 tonnes

PDO Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania

44,207 tonnes

PDO Roman Pecorino

36,015 tonnes

Source: 2016 Assolatte report

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