Parmigiano Reggiano, a certification mark in the Us

Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Consortium

Nicola Bertinelli,  president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Consortium, spoke at the convention on “Food production and the challenges of international trade” held in Parma, with Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament and Luigi Scordamaglia, president of Federalimentare, with the attendance of many important food companies.

The Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Consortium shared a few points about  the US market, the number one market for exports of Parmigiano Reggiano: more than 10 thousand tons exported, which amount to 250  thousand wheels, worth more than 110 million Euro.
“Recently, there have been a lot of discussions about CETA (the  Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada),  pointing out the positive aspects - such as the protection from imitations similar to the one the European Union law grants - and  the limitations of the agreement, which still does not sufficiently  protect Italian products, allowing them to coexist on the market with  their imitations” said Nicola Bertinelli.
“I would like to take this opportunity to focus, not so much on  these different opinions, but rather on the path the Consortium needs to  undertake across the Atlantic to enhance the product and develop the  market, considering that the elimination of duties will make our exports  grow considerably. Our efforts shall concentrate on explaining  to the US market that there is no other cheese similar to ours", he added.
In the United States, the Consortium registered “Parmigiano Reggiano” as a certification mark  and, thanks to this, it can protect the product by monitoring the market and starting legal actions. In spite of poor protection and  unfair competition from parmesan and Italian Sounding products, our exports have increased significantly up to 110 million Euro.
In recent years, the Consortium has been working on resolving these matters, highlighting commercial practices that are misleading for consumers. A recent study, carried out on 1,200 American consumers, demonstrated that, for 66% of respondents, the word parmesan  was not at all generic – contrary to what the American dairy industry  claims – but rather it identifies a hard cheese with a precise  geographic origin that 90% of respondents indicated without hesitation  to be Italy.
During the study, the respondents were shown two packages of made-in-the-USA parmesan,  one with no elements recalling Italy, and the other characterized by  identifiable images of the Italian tricolour flag. Even when shown the  former, 38% of consumers indicated the product as a cheese of Italian  origin, but the results were definitely more serious for the packaging  characterized by “Italian sounding” elements (the tricolour flag or  Italian artworks): in that case, 67% of American buyers said they were  convinced to have an authentic Italian product in front of them.
"We must work on  negotiations aimed at the recognition of geographic indications as  global values for agricultural development. Regulations able to  eliminate practices that are misleading for consumers, in particular the  use of geographical names, images and brands evocative of Italy to  advertise products that have absolutely nothing to do with our country,  the most shameless form of unfair competition and fraud to consumers in  the agri-food sector” concluded Nicola Bertinelli.

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