Cheesed off: Italian regions highly strung over mozzarella

Rome (AFP) –


Defenders of buffalo mozzarella in the Campania region of southern Italy have vowed to fight a decision made this week by the farming ministry which allows a cow mozzarella from neighbouring Puglia to be given special status.

Even before Brussels has given its opinion over the DOP (protected designation of origin) label, the defence consortium of buffalo mozzarella announced an appeal at the administrative court.

"The cheese products of Puglia are delicious, but for the typical character of the local productions and the full interest of the value of the resources of all regions, the only DOP mozzarella is -- and must remain -- ours, exclusively made with buffalo milk," warned the Campania region in September.

Buffalo mozzarella was awarded the DOP label in 1996, and following a difficult start in trading has had a record decade: some 44,000 tons were produced in 2016 -- up 31 percent in 10 years -- of which 14,000 tons were exported -- up 168 percent in the same period.

Buffalo milk costs three times more than cow's milk, and even though the taste of both products is different and the ministry has set constraints for dairies in Puglia to clearly display that it is cow mozzarella, Campania fears confusion.

"The game is not over," said Domenico Raimondo, president of the defence consortium of buffalo mozzarella.

"We will go to the end and we will use all the means at our disposal to avoid what appears to us clearly an own goal for Italy, that both the markets and consumers will understand."