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Marketplace
BBC World Service

Earthquake halts cheese production in Italy

Alan Johnston May 24, 2012
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David Brancaccio: People in northern Italy are still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake the other day that killed seven. It struck hardest in some of Italy’s richest farmland — and among the region’s best known products are two cheeses: Parmesan and Grana Padano. Those are big exports.

The BBC’s Alan Johnston reports from Rome.


Alan Johnston: Parmesan is produced in big round wheels each weighing nearly ninety pounds, and to taste just right they have be stacked up and left for two years. But the earthquake brought mayhem — toppling huge stacks of cheese. Altogether more than four-hundred thousand wheels came crashing down — ten percent of the world’s supply of Parmesan has been affected.

Leo Bertozzi is director of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium, which represents producers. He described the scene in one of the Parmesan warehouses.

Leo Bertozzi: There were shelves with thousands and thousands of wheels of cheese all fallen down one on another, like on a domino effect and thousands of cheese spoiled and broken and this really is bad.

But despite the disruption, the Parmesan makers say that because they produce over three million cheese wheels a year, they don’t anticipate a shortage. So that means there should be no price hikes for Parmesan-lovers here or anywhere else.

In Rome, I’m the BBC’s Alan Johnston for Marketplace.

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