It all started with a video: Igor, the leading company producing gorgonzola cheese in Italy, asked the chef of the best Chinese restaurant in Milan to star in a video where he prepared a recipe featuring gorgonzola, tofu and shrimp tail. After that, the company commissioned recipes and videos in Polish, Korean, Romanian, Russian. The result? Worldwide exports of gorgonzola over the past five years have increased by 7%.
To give an idea of the expanding market, Fabio Leonardi, managing director of Igor, provides the following figures: overall, 2013 closed with 250 tons of exported product compared to 170 in 2012. Six years ago, exports to Russia counted for a mere 30 tons; now, they are up to 150. In 2005, the company sent 250 tons to the U.S.; they are now up to 450 and it is the most promising market, “if only because it is a country of 250 million people who regularly eat cheese, a terrific market for us.” But also, Leonardi points out, “to contrast a group of producers in Wisconsin who make cheese and pass it off as original Italian gorgonzola, when it’s not.”
To achieve this, the Italian companies that are part of the Consortium for the protection of gorgonzola, promise to both deliver the high-quality that is distinctive of the Made in Italy brand and to ensure maximum health safety thanks to advanced technology. And it seems to work since countries who are very strict about the import of certain foods, like Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.S., are the ones that register the highest demand for the Italian blue cheese.
Leonardi also says that the greatest satisfaction for the Italian producers of gorgonzola derives from the fact that even France, the country that most protects its cheese producers, has become a leading importer.
Gorgonzola is under Protected Geographical Status (termed DOP in Italy), which means it can only be produced in a certain area, namely in the northern regions of Lombardy and Piedmont.