Before tariffs really grate, a rush on Parmesan
MILAN — U.S. consumers who appreciate the tang of aged Italian Parmesan cheese as an aperitif or atop their favorite pasta dish are stocking up ahead of next week’s tariff hike and as dairy producers in the two countries square off.
The Italian agricultural lobby Coldiretti said Friday that sales of both Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, aged cheeses with a distinctive granular quality that are defined by their territory of origin, have skyrocketed in the United States by 220% since the higher tariffs were announced one week ago.
The new tariffs — up from $2.15 per kilogram to around $6 a kilogram — take effect Oct. 18. Parmesan cheese is on a long list of EU products targeted by the Trump administration for retaliatory tariffs approved by the World Trade Organization for illegal EU subsidies to aviation giant Airbus.
Coldiretti says American consumers as a result will pay over $45 a kilogram, instead of $40 — which is expected to hurt sales in the U.S., the secondlargest export market after France.
Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese consortium, said the tariffs threaten the economic health of 330 small dairy producers around Parma and the 50,000 people who work in the supply chain.
“I believe that Europe has understood that this is a commercial attack,” Bertinelli said.
The U.S. National Milk Producers Federation has welcomed the tariffs, saying U.S. producers have been blocked from selling their “common name” Parmesan in Europe, contributing to a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with the EU.
The milk producers’ lobby said the use of “geographic indication,” like Parmigiano Reggiano, has been “abused” to limit competition of cheese imports from the United States into the EU.
A worker creates wheels of Parmesan Reggiano cheese in Noceto, near Parma, Italy, last week.