Italian producers of what has been dubbed the "King of Cheeses" fear for their industry and say American consumers will suffer due to tariffs President Donald Trump has slapped on their luxury food.
Back in April, after a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the European Union was illegally subsidizing Airbus and Boeing for years, Trump announced his administration would target EU products because Europe "has taken advantage of the U.S. on trade for many years."
The retaliatory measures approved by the WTO will see the U.S. impose $7.5 billion of tariffs on European exports, including wine, olive oil and cheese.
The internationally renowned Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano cheeses are among the products most affected with their prices in the U.S. expected to rise from $40 a kilogram to $45 a kilogram from October 18.
President of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium, Nicola Bertinelli, said that Trump was acting out of "spite."
He told Newsweek: "We are worried for the future because based on our research the U.S. is one of the markets with the most potential for Parmigiano. Today we are exporting 10 thousand tonnes annually and without these duties we could double this by 2025."
He said that Trump was using the Airbus-Boeing feud to conceal the real reason for the tariffs, which is to allow the U.S. food industry's forgery of the product that could flood the market.
The World Trade Organization finds that the European Union subsidies to Airbus has adversely impacted the United States, which will now put Tariffs on $11 Billion of EU products! The EU has taken advantage of the U.S. on trade for many years. It will soon stop!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 9, 2019
As a European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, there are strict rules for Parmigiano-Reggiano's production. It has to be made within an area of approximately 4,000 square miles in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Mantua.
Only raw milk produced in the area, influenced by the environmental factors like its grass, can be used in the cheese and within the EU, only cheeses bearing the PDO "Parmigiano Reggiano" can be called "parmesan."
But according to The Local, more than 200,000 tonnes of the cheese were sold outside of the EU in 2018, 15 times more than the authentic Italian produce with the PDO label.
Bertinelli said there were "tangible values" in the authentic cheese that were "really important for U.S. consumers" such as its lack of additives and preservatives.
"We must defend our products as an expression of the territory and culture of our country. We will make an effort to protect Italian producers from the import of generic parmesan made outside of our protected designation of origin," he said.