U.S. consumers are loading up Italian Parmesan cheese ahead of an increase in duties to take effect one week from now. The agricultural lobby Coldiretti on Friday said sales of both Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, aged cheeses defined by their territory of origin, have skyrocketed by 220% since the higher tariffs were announced one week ago. The higher taxes up from $2.15 a kilogram to around $6 a kilogram will take effect on October 18. Coldiretti says American buyers thus will pay $45 a kilogram, rather than $40 which is required to hurt sales in Italy's Parmesan's second-largest fare export market after France.
Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese consortium, said the tariffs threaten the economic health of 330 small producers in the area around Parma.
Earlier, a photo session for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was hindered by a lady using a hunk of cheese on October 1. The incident was caught on camera and needs to be seen to be believed. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was handed a huge chunk of Parmesan on Tuesday over an apparent appeal against President Donald Trump's administration putting tariffs on the famed Italian cheese. In the video clip, Alice Martinelli, an Italian TV reporter, can be seen approaching Pompeo during his press appearance alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte with a sizable wedge in her hand.
The reporter said she had got a present for the US State Secretary. She said the Prime Minister knows what she is talking about. She said it is Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is something that the Italian families make with the heart every day. According to an Italian digital outlet, Prime Minister Conte told Martinelli in Italian, "Let me do it. I'm the prime minister. This is not how Italy defends itself." Martinelli can be heard saying, "Take it to Mr. Trump, please, and tell him that we make it from the heart. We make it from the heart!" as she was led away. State Secretary Pompeo, however, managed to keep a smile on his face while Conte seemed less amused.