The Covid-19 pandemic is giving a hard time to one of the best sellers of Italian food. Grana Padano PDO is holding up well on the domestic market but is struggling abroad. The reason is all in the different attitude of consumers. Outside Italy, the most appreciated Italian PDO cheese is consumed mainly in restaurants that are almost everywhere closed. In Italy, people can buy it directly at the supermarket. Since coronavirus has forced Italians into their homes, many people have stocked up on it more than usual.
RETAIL SALES SUPPORT THE MARKET
“There has been significant growth in retail sales in Italy – says Stefano Berni, general manager of the Grana Padano PDO protection Consortium – and since Italian families buy 70/75% of total domestic production, the increase is compensating for the loss of the horeca channel.”
Starting from last March, the Consortium estimates a growth by +8% in retail sales in Italy for the period March-August, and a decrease by -60% in sales to bars, restaurants, and hotels. Also according to the six-month forecast, the Italian market will eventually grow by 1.5%. This is not enough to compensate for the losses in the foreign market, which is losing about 15% of sales.
GRANA PADANO PDO BETWEEN CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
“In Italy – Mr Berni explains – when the restaurant sector closed down the share of Grana Padano PDO purchased by families grew. This is not the case abroad: 50% of our cheese is consumed in restaurants. With the sole exception of Germany (25% of exports share), where people also eat it at home.”
This is no small loss given that, in 2019, 41% of production was exported. The strength of the Italian market is not enough, therefore, to reassure producers. Now all that remains is to wait for what will happen at the end of the year.
On the production front, the Covid-19 pandemic has not caused any slowdowns. Not even in the most affected areas, with dairies facing staff shortages. “The dairy system in northern Italy allowed all the milk produced to find a place, albeit sometimes with difficulty. As Grana Padano PDO producers, we have also taken measures to avoid speculation” Mr Berni says.