Specialty/Gourmet

Parmigiano Reggiano: The Cheese of the Fittest?

Consortium names Nico Mannion to its U.S. brand ambassador team
Parmigiano Reggiano
Photograph: Shutterstock

The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium recently named Golden State Warriors Italian-American guard Nico Mannion as a United States brand ambassador. Throughout the coming year, Mannion will promote Parmigiano Reggiano’s presence in the U.S. from fitness, cultural and nutritional perspectives.

As an official U.S. brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Mannion will share his passion for the cheese through various virtual and in-person appearances and promotions on his social media channels. The goal of the sponsorship is to explain why Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is considered a “true masterpiece of Italian cuisine and an iconic symbol of Italian culture, while also helping people across the country learn about its health benefits and its role as a nutritious pre-workout supplement,” the Consortium said.

With protein-rich diets continuing to trend, Parmigiano Reggiano wants consumers to know that 100 grams of the cheese contains 32 grams of protein.

“As an athlete, food is an integral part of fueling your body for performance. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a healthy source of protein that is easy to add to meals, or as a delicious snack on its own,” said Mannion in a statement. “As a proud Italian, I’m excited to partner with Parmigiano Reggiano and add a taste of home to my pre- and post-game routine.”

Record Year for Parmigiano Reggiano

New reports from the Consortium reveal that 2020 was a record year for Parmigiano Reggiano PDO production, which saw a total increase of 4.9% over the previous year. The 3.94 million wheels of cheese produced in 2020 represent the highest peak in the history of Parmigiano Reggiano. In the past four years, production rose from 3.47 million to 3.94 million wheels, representing a 13.5% increase.

Competitive pricing also helped to spur sales, noted the Consortium, as did the increasing international usage of the cheese.

While Italy, which accounts for 56% of the market, recorded a 7.9% increase in sales volume, the U.S. led the export market share with 20% overall.

“Despite the difficulties associated with the pandemic, Parmigiano Reggiano ended 2020 with a successful result that has rewarded the reputation, the quality of the PDO product with the highest value in the world,” said Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium.Consumers forced to give up out-of-home meals for several months have shown their preferences very clearly on all markets.”

Name Brand Cheese Please

A new study by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium found that among people who regularly eat out at restaurants, the majority would appreciate seeing the type/brand name of the cheese used as part of the description of the dish on the menu. As consumers continue to seek restaurant-quality food from the prepared foods department of their local supermarket, this could be a selling point for grocers looking to elevate their offerings.

The recently commissioned market analysis conducted by Ipsos surveyed a representative sample by age group, gender and geographical origin that provided over 900 responses, which the Consortium said “confirms the deep perceived need to be informed.”

The positive responses were as much as 90% of the total to the question regarding type/brand name of cheese on menus, with the respondents indicating an importance of an 8 out of 10.

One of the oldest cheeses in the world, Parmigiano Reggiano is produced today essentially as it was almost 1,000 years agousing the same ingredients (milk, salt and rennet), with the same craftsmanship and technique that has undergone few changes over the centuries. Following very strict specifications of temperature control and aging variables, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese must be produced in the area of origin which includes the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of Mantua and Bologna.

To further address consumer interest in the origin of their food, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium and Identita Golose have forged a collaboration aiming for product transparency within the restaurant industry.The partnership seeks to inform consumers about the products being served at restaurants across the world.

“The volume of which counterfeit products are being served at restaurants is very real and is estimated to be 2 billion euro for about 200,000 tons of product—about 15 times the volume of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO being exported,” says the Consortium. 

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