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BORN IN CAMPANIA AND ADOPTED BY THE USA, PDO BUFFALO CHEESE IS CONQUERING THE WORLD
American consumers acknowledge only one sort of PDO buffalo mozzarella: the type produced by members of the “Consorzio di Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana” . This protected brand from central-southern Italy is now well known in the USA, where customers appreciate its special flavour and are quick to distrust any imitations. The most famous type of mozzarella is enjoyed in all its various forms and is now one of the most popular Italian products on the American market. In 2011, US sales constituted 27.7% of the export total, overtaking the traditional centres of European consumption, notably the United Kingdom.
This is not to say that Campania “buffalo cheese” lacks devotees within Europe and elsewhere. Indeed, sales to Europe and the rest of the world now account for one quarter of the entire production. Connoisseurs of Italian flavours and cuisine are increasing in number both in Europe and America, helping PDO Campania mozzarella to register a 5% growth in exports compared to 2010. Within Europe in particular, knowledge of good food is on the increase and, according to data compiled by the consortium’s research centre, consumption is not just restricted to Italians abroad searching for the flavours of home. The figures for European exports provide conclusive evidence of this remarkable enthusiasm for Campania PDO mozzarella: the UK accounts for 15.3% of the finished product sold abroad, followed by Germany (12.2%), France (10.8%), Switzerland (7.4%), Spain (6.2%) and Holland (5.8%).
The international growth of the Campania brand witnessed in recent years encouraged the producers to set up a dedicated structure to manage international relations. The Consortium’s director, Antonio Lucisano, explained the reasons behind this decision: “Until recently, export efforts by members of the Campania PDO buffalo mozzarella consortium had a certain lack of cohesion, largely due to the small size of many of the producers involved. So we came up with the idea of establishing an export consortium, to promote and sell the product as a single collective brand.” The management system for the Campania mozzarella producers currently relates to a network of small businesses, as well as a parallel group of medium-to-large production concerns registering average exports just below 47%.
The important challenge for the producers is now to work as a system, embracing recognizable common brands while also maintaining the individual quality which leads to growth. According to Lucisano, “the majority of companies registered with the Consortium are medium-sized enterprises. We are working along these lines to obtain even better results in marketing a product which matches the flavours and traditions of cuisine the world over. We have been able to evaluate our success during our promotional tours around the world, travelling from Australia, where we were last December, to as far as Russia and Japan.” The establishment of common certification systems is also aimed at overcoming the problems of counterfeiting such as Italian sounding, which have mainly gained ground abroad. On this front, PDO certification has acted as an important impediment to such types of commercial activity. Last year, the Consortium launched a focused publicity campaign which highlighted the particular brands of the product and the organization and drew attention to the risks of buying loose mozzarella. In other respects, the unmistakeable flavour of Campania PDO buffalo cheese is its own best advertisement, and with its special ingredients and production methods it is well able to defend its worldwide reputation for quality.