The average annual wholesale price for 12-month Parmigiano Reggiano is €10.34/kg ($11.55). In comparison, the average price for the same product in 2020 was €8.57/kg ($9.57) and €10.76/kg ($12.02) before the onset of the pandemic in 2019.
With an overall increase of 3.9% compared to the previous year, 2021 was also a record year for production, reaching 4.09m wheels of cheese, equivalent to around 163,000 tonnes. These figures follow the Consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano’s increasing focus on foreign markets with development opportunities. Overall, production has risen by 10.6% over the last four years, from 3.7m wheels of cheese to 4.09m wheels.
Italy, which accounts for 55% of the market, recorded a 4.5% increase in consumption compared to pre-pandemic levels, consuming 89,101 tons in 2021 compared to 85,258 in 2019. The figure is slightly down (1.3%) from 2020, which observed a boom in domestic consumption of Parmigiano Reggiano sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
Large retail remains the main distribution channel (51%), followed by direct sales from dairies (which recorded a sharp increase), and by the general food industry (14%), including products featuring Parmigiano Reggiano amongst the ingredients. The HORECA industry remained in last position, but accounted for 7% compared to 2% in 2020, which the consortium said has “enormous potential for growth and development.” The remaining 8% is distributed among other sales channels.
Parmigiano Reggiano’s export share saw a 2.9% volume growth to 45%, with the US as the main market, accounting for 21% of total exports. France (19%) and Germany (17%) followed in second and third place, respectively, with the UK (11%) and Canada (5%) in fourth and fifth.
In these main markets, the best sales performances were recorded in the US (up 10.4%), France (up 4.5%), and Canada (up 5.5%). Most other European markets also recorded growth, with Switzerland (up 14.7%) and Sweden (up 13.2%) of particular note. The same cannot be said for Germany (down 1.9%) and the UK (down 15.6%), which lost ground despite significant growth in 2020. The consortium said the UK decline was affected by ongoing issues caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, said, “Despite the pandemic, our sector has managed to increase consumption and achieve price stability at production over the last year. As we emerge from this phase following the WHO’s announcement that the improved situation in Europe could be heralding the end of the pandemic, we will need to address Covid-19’s consequences on the market. Among these is the risk of excessive supply due to an increase in production driven by prices and demand.
“The Consortium’s new marketing and production plans, agreed upon in December 2021, will be integral tools in addressing these potential challenges, setting Parmigiano Reggiano on track for a long-term strong growth trajectory.”