Cheese under attack

Melbourne cheese sellers are worried their businesses will be impacted if they are forced by the European Union to change the name of their most popular varieties.

The European Union wants to put geographic restrictions on more than 50 types of popular cheeses, including feta and parmesan, meaning these cheeses can only be called this if they are made in the region where the variety originated. The move follows other EU restrictions, including wine made outside the French region of Champagne now referred to as ‘sparkling wine’ instead of champagne.

Claudio Petrucclli has owned the Cibo deli in Craigieburn for 10 years and fears the cost of any changes to well-known cheese names would be very high.

“Changing the names of these products will disappoint my customers who have been coming to us for years” he said.

 “Unfortunately, because we are the little guys we are always pushed around by the big guys.”

Petrucclli, has been in the deli industry for 30 years and said he never thought this would happen.

“I’ve had European customers like Italians and Greeks who come to my shop for specific products, and I’ve let them know that there is talk of these changes and they are devastated,” he said.

“These changes are going to have impacts on everyone’s business who buys these products I think if their changes are granted, I won’t be stocking these products anymore.

“The European Union should be giving us something if they want us to change the names of our cheese. After Covid my business has never (fully) recovered – cheese is one of my biggest sellers that keeps my business going.”

Mauro Montalto is a third-generation cheese maker whose grandfather started Florida Cheese more then 65 years ago.

“My concerns are that this is going to cost our businesses a lot of money,” he said. “That’s what scares me a lot and gets me really angry that they want to make these changes and won’t even give us names that make up for these changes.

“I would never think something like this would get me angry.

“There are many geographic indicators that will affect our business, especially if you are taking away names that have made our business get to where it is today.

“My business has been around for 65 years through some of the worst times, but I would have never thought that, for my business to crumble, it would come to changing the names. These names put us on the map”.

Australian Dairy Products Federation president John Williams declined to comment to Dscribe on the matter.


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