Cheese exports boost Italy’s dairy sector

For companies challenged by inflation and raw material costs, the export sales channel is confirmed as a key growth lever in 2022

After some rather complicated years, in 2022 the Italian dairy sector faced even worse and in some respects new problems. The main concern was production costs and the impact of inflation. However, the Italian dairy sector showed its tenacity and resilience. Even with a slight decline of -0.8%, Italian milk production was still around 13 million tons.

The international sales channel proved to be a key growth lever for companies. The year saw a new record for cheese exports, which, thanks to an increase of +6.4%, almost reached a volume of 570,000 tons. This represents a turnover of 4.4 billion euros: five billion if other Italian dairy products are included.

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According to Assolatte, the association of Italy’s dairy products industries, the performance of mozzarella, burrata, mascarpone, and other fresh cheeses was excellent, all with sales rates close to double digits. Two symbols of made-in-Italy Grana Padano PDO and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, also substantially confirmed their export performance with sales increases of +3% for whole wheels and +10% for grated.

About 80 percent of Italian cheese exports go to Europe, with sales to EU and non-EU countries combined. France, the first outlet market, is noteworthy for reaching 130,000 tons of imported Italian cheese in 2022 and even more for its +11.5 percent growth rate. Germany remains firmly in second place, while sales in the UK grew by +4% in volume despite Brexit. A very positive figure comes from Spain, whose imports increased from 28,400 to 33,500 tons. Similar growth rates were also recorded in China and Canada: the latter, thanks to the Ceta agreement, reached a record import volume of 8,200 tons.

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