US Market at Risk for Pecorino Cheese?

Together with Asiago, Fontina, and Taleggio, this typical Italian cheese could be subjected to additional duties – starting in the coming summer – as a result of the US-EU dispute over state aid to the aviation sector

A few days ago the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a list of European food products that may be subject to additional duties as a result of the dispute between the USA and the EU over state aid to the aviation sector. The list includes butter, yoghurt and some cheeses. From a first analysis by Italy’s dairy producers’ association Assolatte, the Italian cheeses involved could be Pecorino, Asiago, Fontina and Taleggio, as well as some fresh and melted cheeses. The amount of duties that the US government intends to apply – and that would come into force in the coming summer – is still unknown.


The European Union is preparing a reaction to USA duties. This could reach a value of 20 billion dollars, doubling the duties applied by the Trump’s administration, with the with the risk of opening the way to an unprecedented trade war. Meanwhile, Assolatte recalls that today Italy comes in the first place globally for dairy exports to the US, that is the third destination in value of total Italian dairy exports. Italian dairy companies are currently exporting more than 30,000 tons of cheese to the United States. This is equal to about a third of Italy’s cheese exports outside the EU, for a value exceeding 270 million euros.


According to Assolatte’s data, for some Italian cheeses this is the most important market. This is the case of Pecorino Romano, for which the USA is by large the first destination market. In fact, it accounts for two thirds of Pecorino Romano’s exports. For Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano the USA is the second most important exports destination, after Germany. A slowdown in exports flows to the USA would thus have very bad consequences on the Italian dairy sector. Assolatte is working on a report that will be soon available to quantify the possible damage.

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