Export business for Italian cheeses hit €3.1 billion in 2021

Sales grow by +12.3% compared to the previous year

Italian cheeses exports continue to grow. In 2021, sales reached 3.6 billion euros with a growth of +12.3% in value (+10.6% in volume) compared to 2020. Particularly positive results were achieved in the United States (+34.4% in value and +19.7% in volume), where Italian cheeses reached pre-2008 levels, and in China (+35.1% in value and +26.4% in volume).

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These numbers emerge from Istat foreign trade data updated to December 2021, processed by the Italian farmers’ association Alleanza Cooperative Agroalimentari. “In an extremely difficult scenario, characterized by the pandemic and the economic difficulties that hit the sector in the last months of last year – says the Dairy Sector Coordinator of the Alleanza Cooperative Agroalimentari, Giovanni Guarnerithese numbers are certainly positive. They confirm the vitality of a sector that is now, however, facing the effects of production cost inflation and the war in Ukraine, whose consequences are not yet easy to estimate”.

cheeses exports


In the updated snapshot of Italian cheeses exports to December 2021, exports to the UK recorded a slight setback (-4.5% in volume and -2.7% in value) due to the consequences of Brexit. There was also a slight drop in exports to Japan (-3.2% in volume and -1.8% in value). In the EU market, where Italy sells more than two-thirds of its total production (2.3 billion euros), sales increased +10.2%. Within this market, there was a very good result in France (+13.2% in volume and +13.8% in value), where export sales reached 705 million euros.

Regarding the categories, in 2021 orders for all exported Italian cheeses increased. Foreign sales of mozzarella continue to increase (+12.5%), as the market for Grana Padano PDO and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO consolidates (+5.3%): put together, these two kinds of cheeses invoice more than one billion euros (more than 30% of the total).

Sales of Italian cheeses abroad have been growing for yearsGuarneri says – confirming the vitality of a sector whose excellence is recognized and appreciated all over the world. This positive trend could, however, be hindered by some EU initiatives, such as the possible cuts in funds for the promotion of PDO products, and, above all, the introduction of the Nutriscore food labeling system which is likely to become compulsory by 2022. This is, in fact, a misleading system that trivializes the nutritional values of our cheeses and risks putting a sudden stop on these positive performances”.

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