Producers of Italy’s famed Parmesan cheese are voicing growing complaints about “fake” versions of their products in the United States.
According to industry group Coldiretti, the volume of cheese made outside Italy in the style of the celebrated Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano now exceeds production in their Italian home regions, Agence France-Presse reported.
Over 300,000 tons of third-rate versions of the famous cheeses were produced overseas, mostly in the US, compared to 295,000 tons of the originals produced in Italy, Coldiretti was quoted as saying Thursday as producers staged a demonstration in Bologna.
Exports of Parmesan to the US dropped 10 percent last year, and producers were forced to swallow a 20 percent drop in prices.
Coldiretti says one in four small producers of Parmesan have gone out of business since 2007.
Producers “find themselves facing a situation more serious than the earthquake which three years ago knocked over thousands of wheels and destroyed warehouses,” the Italian industry group was quoted as saying.
The Parmigiano Reggiano brand is protected worldwide and can only be legally used for cheese produced in and around the northern city of Parma, in line with strict quality standards.
Similar restrictions apply to all cheese sold as parmesan within the European Union but the English name for the cheese can legally be used by North American producers for their own output, AFP noted.
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