The American market is, after France, the second largest exports market for Parmigiano Reggiano. Every year, dairy companies export more than 10,000 tonnes to the US and volumes are set to increase. American consumers are evolved consumers, attentive to sustainability, traceability, the naturalness of the product and the values that make Parmigiano Reggiano an icon of Made in Italy. For this reason, the “King of Cheeses’” protection Consortium has major projects in the United States and thinks that in a short time it can become its top exports market, up to double the quotas between now and 2025.
TARIFFS AND CONSEQUENCES
Trump administration threatens to apply tariffs equal to the value of the imported product. This means that tariffs would rise from $2.15 to $15 per kg. Considering the various steps that the cheese undergoes from when it arrives at the importer to when it reaches the supermarket shelves, it can be estimated that the cost of Parmigiano Reggiano throughout the USA would rise from $40 to $60 per kg. A price increase like this will inevitably lead to a collapse in consumption. In recent weeks the Consortium has been in contact with American operators who transform the product, and they have put forward a disturbing scenario, namely a reduction in consumption of 80-90%.
The benefit would undoubtedly be all for counterfeiting like Parmesan produced in the United States which, although it has nothing to do with the Parmigiano Reggiano, can be grated on pasta at a very low cost. Parmigiano Reggiano is a PDO product and has an indissoluble bond with the territory of origin of which it is an expression. Consumers who buy Parmesan are often mistakenly convinced they are buying an authentic Italian product.
THE POWER OF COUNTERFEITING
The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium showed a significant sample of American consumers a “parmesan” pack with the explicit indication “Made in Winsconsin” written on the label. Two thirds of the interviewed people stated that they considered the product to be of Italian origin. For this reason, the protection Consortium strives to ensure that, even outside the European Union, the name “parmesan” can only be used for authentic Parmigiano Reggiano products. Otherwise, it will not only be Italian companies to be damaged but all American consumers who are deceived as they buy a counterfeit product, mistakenly convinced that they are buying authentic Parmigiano Reggiano.
AUTHENTIC PARMIGIANO REGGIANO ENRICHING USA COMPANIES
Finally, we must not forget that Parmigiano Reggiano also generates wealth for many American companies in the United States. Only 25% of the product ends up in the stores in whole wheels without undergoing processing. American companies portion the wheels, produce different kinds of wheels, grate the cheese and use it for different preparations. This business is worth about 200 million dollars. If additional tariffs were to increase and export quota were to fall drastically, this induced business would disappear. And this also applies to the revenues generated by tariffs. In fact, sales would be reduced to such an extent as to produce revenues inevitably lower than the current ones, which are equal to 22 million dollars.