Gorgonzola DOP: historic production record

With Cannavacciuolo, Savino and Brachetti at the EXPO to celebrate with the world producers, the record figures for Gorgonzola Dop cheese.

The highest number of cheese wheels ever produced since 1976: +6.4% in production and +2.66% in exports.

2014 sets a historic record in the production of Gorgonzola Dop cheese wheels since 1976, when the data related to the number of stamped wheels started to be monitored. In fact, in 2014 4,443,538 cheese wheels had been produced.

This figure was stated by the Annual Assembly of the members that was held on June 15 at the “CIBUS è Italia” pavilion at the Expo. This Assembly is the only time during the year when all the Gorgonzola Dop producers, who join the Consortium for Protection, meet in order to take stock of the production situation and to assess the impact of this important cheese on the Italian economy, being the third dairy product in terms of turnover in our country.

The Assembly was attended by institutional guests and renowned personalities, among which the chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo, who presented one of his original recipes based on the sweet Gorgonzola Dop to the  presenter Nicola Savino, as well as the quick-change artist  Arturo Brachetti who concluded the exciting show delighting the participants.

This exclusive evening also celebrated the birth of the smartphone application dedicated to Gorgonzola Dop. The “Gorgonzola” app is free and has been developed to interact in a constantly new and unique way with the lovers of this delicious cheese who are relentlessly chasing the best Gorgonzola.

PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION FIGURES

The President of the Consortium, Renato Invernizzi, presented the figures relating to production and export, according to which, in 2014, production increased by +6.4% with 267,928 cheese wheels more compared to 2013.

The analysis has been conducted per production type, and the one obtained with milk coming from organic farming has lost interest, accounting for only 0.51% of the total production, i.e. about 22,000 wheels. Whilst the piccante (spicy) type is slightly, however constantly, growing with an increase of 50,000 wheels more compared to 2013, accounting for about 10% of the total production.

There are only two Italian regions that produce Gorgonzola Dop, namely Piedmont and Lombardy, and there is a constant shift towards the Piedmont’s production, which currently accounts for 68.5% compared to the 31.5% of Lombardy.

As regards consumption, the year 2014 closed with a volume increase by 4.3%, since the average Gorgonzola purchase per family increased by 200 grams.  This figure is even more positive considering that 2014 registered a very negative domestic trend for the cheese sector (-5.7%) having sold 659 million kg less, which represents a loss of almost 7 million Euros for the industry (*).

Regarding the consumption areas the drop registered, for the entire cheese sector in the south, unlike 2013 is confirmed also for Gorgonzola cheese that decreases by 4 points, while it increases in areas 1 and 2 (the whole north).  The main purchase channel still is the supermarket where almost 50% of the Gorgonzola cheese is sold. Hypermarkets, discount markets, peddlers and specialised shops – that sell the remaining share – are stable. Whilst the sale of variable weight product at the counter (42.7%) is decreasing compared to the variable weight take-away product (41%). This figure is even more striking considering that only 10 years ago the sales at the counter represented 75% compared to 20% of the take-away!

GORGONZOLA DOP EXPORT IN THE WORLD

Figures of 2014 reveal that Italian companies are betting increasingly more on export. The continuous growth, also in 2014, has meant a +2.66% namely 1,650 tons of Gorgonzola in the world, the highest figure ever that confirms that Gorgonzola ranks third among the Italian Dop cheeses. In the European Union the consumption is constantly increasing, with Germany leading the importing countries with a +12%; there are still some problems in the  United States that are losing another   13%, while Asian countries show an increase in consumption, however little, compared to 2013, in particular in Japan and South Korea, while in China consumption drops below 20 tons. The first signs of worldwide exports at the beginning of 2015 are encouraging, as they show an increase of over  14.4% (Clal data according to Istat source).

(*There has been a significant increase in family consumption, but, at the same time, the number of families has considerably diminished; however, the increase of the average purchase has well compensated such drop.  Nielsen source: total Italy, large scale chain store + traditional channel, December 2014)

COMMUNICATION

The creative strategy for the Gorgonzola Cheese communication during the Expo reaffirms, first of all, the use of the testimonial-ambassador, the starred chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo, a personality with a strong “television” connotation, however able to add to the product a new meaning of deliciousness and refinement of use in a very influential manner. We decided to add value to the campaign by communicating to foreign visitors not only the testimonial, but also the appetizing versatility that has always characterised and qualified the Gorgonzola Cheese: deliciousness, exclusive double dolce-piccante flavour, easy to combine, creation of new and surprising tastes. The campaign is evolving and changes from “the more you know it, the more you like it” to “the more you taste it, the more you like it” inviting people to taste and discover this product.

The cooperation with Asiago, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Sardo Consortia aimed at Fromages d’Italie project is progressing positively. The strength of the project is the co-participation of 5 Consortia for protection that represent products that are similar in terms of category, but completely different per features. Thanks to this project, Gorgonzola cheese was the only Italian presence at Omnivore event.

Furthermore, once again cooperating with Asiago, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Sardo DOP Consortia, the Consortium has been engaged on national territory in the development of the project Grandi Formaggi DOP (Great DOP Cheeses) with two training days for restaurant owners in Rome and Milan, as well as two training days for shop owners in Bologna and Bari. An incredible turnout at the Milanese event, organised in the new restaurant owned by Carlo Cracco “Carlo e Camilla in Segheria”.

MONITORING AND LEGAL PROTECTION OF THE DOP

During 2014 the Consortium conducted about 400 samplings to check the Gorgonzola cheese in Italy. Abroad, together with EUROPOL – The Hague and INTERPOL Lione,  the Consortium provided information for a thorough monitoring of the intra-UE Import-Export operations, concerning the use and correspondence of the products that had as a reference the DOP of Gorgonzola cheese. Such action was included in the EU plan to fight counterfeit, potential commercial frauds, and illicit use of trademark property. The plan originally included 27 EU countries and has now reached a total of 52 members including USA and China, and the relevant results shall soon be published during the International Conference Europol-Interpol in Prague.

The legal defence and denomination protection activities are of paramount importance for the Consortium, and they range from trademark protection – encompassing counterfeit repression and registration of the consortium brand “” in the various countries -, to the fulfilment of the procedural guidelines. In fact, the main obstacles that the Consortium faces at national level concern such procedural guidelines, since there are constantly new cases of products that “pretend” to be Gorgonzola DOP or boast to be a variation of the original DOP exploiting the reputation of the protected denomination of origin. Unluckily, every day several fancy types of Gorgonzola are illegally put on the market, considering that Gorgonzola can only have two “legal” variations, i.e. Dolce (sweet) and Piccante (spicy).

SAFEGUARDING THE FOOD “MADE IN ITALY” ABROAD

The monitoring action on behalf of the Consortium is necessary both on national and international markets where, in particular, the cases of use of the denomination or part of it (prefix GORGO or suffix ZOLA) are multiplying. And it is for this very reason that the Consortium has been among the active players engaged in the international agreements  CETA and TTIP that after many years of negotiations have led to an agreement according to which Gorgonzola DOP shall co-exist with the previous local Canadian productions provided that they are accompanied by words such as “kind”, “type”, “imitation”, and that the origin of the product is clearly stated and readable. Hopefully, the same positive outcomes will result also from the second ongoing negotiation with the USA.

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