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Parmesan producers hail 'gratest' ever year

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Milan (AFP)

Cheese is serious business for Italians, and perhaps its most famous, Parmigiano Reggiano, had its best ever year in 2017, producing a record-busting 147,000 tonnes and generating 2.2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in sales.

That figure, released Monday by Italy's Parmigiano Reggiano consortium, represents 3.6 million wheels produced of the cheese, commonly known as parmesan in English.

Production was up five percent from 2016 and 10 percent from three years ago.

While Italians still eat the majority of parmesan produced, exports are also rising, increasing by nearly 4 percent from 2016 to hit 51,000 tonnes, or 38 percent of total production.

France and Germany were the top two importers.

Further ripening the picture for parmesan producers was the increase in the average price to 9.81 euros per kilo, a 14 percent gain from the previous year.

Producers hope 2018 will melt last year's record numbers, with 3.7 million wheels expected to be produced -- 100,000 more than last year -- and exports set to increase.

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