Delicious! - The most popular cheeses in Italy

Italian cheese is a really fat business: Italian cheese production makes more than 6 billion euros a year! The bestsellers are hard cheeses like "Grana Padano" and "Parmigiano Reggiano". And what are the favourite cheeses of the Italians?

Every person in Italy eats about 22 kilos of cheese a year. All together, a good 1.3 billion tonnes of cheese are eaten in Italy - more than 100,000 Eiffel Towers by weight! 60 per cent of daily expenditure in Italy goes on cheese and dairy products. What are the most popular types of cheese in Italy - a survey by the market research institute Doxa.

salumeria, cheese, salamir, bari, puglia
Display of a "Salumeria" in Bari in Apulia

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The King of Italy's Cheeses

In Italy, "Parmigiano Reggiano", the king of cheeses, is in first place. The Italians' favourite cheese! It has been produced in almost unchanged form for more than 800 years.

Only milk from cows from Emilia-Romagna may be used for the cheese king "Parmigiano Reggiano". The cows are only allowed to feed on fresh grass and hay, not on farm animal feed. It takes 13.5 litres of milk to make one kilo of Parmesan.

parmesan, parmiggiano, italy, cheese
The cheese is broken off with a Parmesan knife
Photo: fca foto digital/Getty Images Signature via
parmesan may be produced in this region
The original cheese comes from this region
Map: NordNordWest, CC BY-SA 4.0

The name "Parmigiano Reggiano" is protected. The original cheese may only be produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and part of the provinces of Mantua and Bologna in the plains, hills and mountains between the rivers Po and Reno.

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The first lady among Italy's cheeses

The silver medal goes to "Mozzarella di Bufalla", the second favourite cheese of the Italians. Made from water buffalo milk, following a special production process in which the cheese is formed at the end as if from threads. In the past, mozzarella was traditionally made in Campania, but today it is also made in other regions of southern Italy.

a traditional dairy in campania
Mozzarella is shaped by hand
mozzarella, map, italy, distribution area, production
This is where the original buffalo mozzarella is made

The name of the original, "Mozzarella di Bufala Campana" is protected in Italy. For this designation, the cheese must come from one of these areas: Campania (provinces: Caserta, Salerno, Naples and Benevento), Lazio (provinces: Latina, Frosinone and Rome), the province of Foggia in Puglia or the municipality of Venafro in Molise.

90 per cent of the protected mozzarella comes from the provinces of Caserta and Salerno in Campania.

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The crown prince among Italy's cheeses

The bronze medal goes to the crown prince of Italy's cheeses: "Grano Padano "is the third favourite cheese of Italians. Moreover, the hard cheese is an Italian export hit.

grana padano, cheese, italy
Here you can see the grainy texture of the cheese particularly well
Photo: cheyennezj/Getty Images via

Grana Padano comes from the Italian Po Valley, the "Pianura padana". The area stretches from the edge of the Western Alps to the Adriatic coast. It is the largest area that the EU has so far granted a protected designation of origin.

Grana Padano in Italy, the Po Valley
Grano Padano is produced in this region in northern Italy

The name "Grano Padano" is derived from the granular structure of the cheese. ("grana" from the Italian "granuloso„) and, on the other hand, of his origins in the Po Valley. ("pianura padana" from Latin "padus" = Po) as of.


Italy's TOP 10 cheeses

Multiple answers were possible in the Italian cheese survey.

1. Parmigiano Reggiano: 44 percent

2. Mozzarella di Bufala: 38 percent

3. Grano Padano: 37 percent

4. Gorgonzola: 31 per cent

5. Pecorino: 26 per cent

6. Crescenza/strecchino: 25 per cent

7. Cheese spread: 25 per cent

8. Asiago: 23 per cent

9. Mozzarella from cow's milk: 22 per cent

1o. Ricotta: 21 per cent

Source: Published by Statista 2022 (figures from 2020)

By the way: Italy does not eat all the cheese itself. 181,000 tonnes of cheese go abroad every year. The biggest customer is Germany, where just under 108,000 tonnes go.

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Our stories from Italy - without cheese

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written by Annie Kayser, first published on 4 October

Source: "Cheese industry in Italy - statistics and facts", statista 2022