Self-help books might suggest to take it easy, adapt to change and not worry about “who moved my cheese”, but in the real world of high quality Parmigiano production in Italy, moving someone’s cheese will land you in jail.
Ask the 7 crooks caught Friday night for breaking into a Parmigiano Reggiano curing house just outside of Reggio Emilia who tried to make off in two trucks and two cars with 460 wheels of the valuable stuff. Total value? A cool E.250,000.
What really gives the story its Italian twist however is that the curing house belongs to Credem, (Credito Emiliano), a small local coop bank that works closely with the area’s producers. A bank stockpiling cheese?! Oh how quaint… how Italian, right?
Think again. The cheese needs to cure 18-36 months before it gets the official Parmigiano Reggiano seal. That’s a long time for a producer to be sitting on a store of value that could be put to better use. Give the cheese instead to the bank as collateral against mid-term loans and re-invest the funds back into your farm (all very efficient, clean, and quite high-tech in these parts). Not quaint… that’s called good business. (Been done this way since the middle ages.)
And get this…!! Due to the current financial crisis and given that 2-3 year Parmigiano has never dropped in value, (people aren’t about to stop eating pasta, right?), Credem is outright buying and stockpiling even more wheels of cheese as a hedge against the expected future devaluation of other assets and defaults in their portfolio! Total value of their hedge at this point? E.25,000,000 worth of cold, hard…..
Many thanks to the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano for the photos.