Purchases of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in the U.S. have more than tripled in the last week (+220%), with importers rushing to stock up before the proposed tariffs authorized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on European Union products are set to kick in on October 18, reports Coldiretti, Italy’s largest organization representing agricultural entrepreneurs.
Parmigiano Reggiano is just one of hundreds of European products that will be affected by tariffs of a total value of $7.5 billions dollars approved by the WTO earlier this month, in essence backing the U.S. government's protests going on for years against the EU illegally subsidizing the European consortium that produces the Airbus aircrafts.
“Italy really has nothing to do with the Airbus consortium, but when it comes to foreign trade and customs policies, the European Union doesn’t differentiate one country from the other,” explains Federico Rampini, a New York-based journalist writing for Italy’s daily La Repubblica. “The EU should put into place special aid to compensate those who will be affected by the reprisal, such as Parmigiano Reggiano producers.”
The U.S. is the most valuable market for Parmigiano Reggiano producers after France. If the tariffs kick in, American consumers will pay more than $45 a kilo for the prized cheese, as opposed to the current $40, with the likely effect to reduce sales of the product. The tariff on Parmigiano and Grana Padano will go from the current $2.15 a kilo to about $6 a kilo, reports Coldiretti.
In addition to Parmigiano, other products to be hit by U.S. tariffs include a number of prized agri-food exports that are a symbol of the Made in Italy brand for a value of about half a billion euros. Products include Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, Pecorino, Provolone and more dairy products, as well as salami, mortadella, shellfish, citrus, juices and liqueurs such as bitters (Campari, Averna) and limoncello.
Cheeses will be the most affected foodstuffs, according to a Coldiretti, followed by liqueurs. Wine, pasta, PDO-labeled prosciutto (such as Prosciutto di Parma and San Daniele), olive oil and buffalo mozzarella (the latter following a recent agreement on imports with a U.S. consortium) appear to have been spared.
In 2018, the value of Made in Italy goods sold in the U.S. amounted to 42.5 billion euros, a figure that has been growing steadily in recent years.
Unless a last-minute negotiation between Washington and Brussels takes place, the tariffs will kick in on October 18 on a range of prized European products that include Scotch whisky, French wine, and Spanish olives. The EU has warned that it will retaliate with similar tariffs against U.S. goods.