The Italian Almanac

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parmigiano reggiano

Fraudulent Cheese

Sales of Italy's iconic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese have jumped by 50% in the past five years in the United States amid surging interest across North America, producers say. However, the greater interest also means more counterfeit products are hitting markets and food shows, as criminals try to cash in on the rising interest.

One case involves sales at New York's prestigious Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, which boasts more than 20,000 visitors, 180,000 products and 2,400 exhibitors from more than 80 countries around the world. The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano discovered three cases of fraud there - cheese that was not authentically produced and certified.

Protecting the brand is crucial to the organization, says chairman Riccardo Deserti. Last year, exports of Parmigiano cheese totalled 7,200 tons, a jump of 6.1% compared to 2011. "Today, Americans spend almost $150 million a year to buy Parmigiano-Reggiano, thanks to a consolidated and well-designed image of our product".