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Italy Earthquake Is Hard Cheese For Suppliers

                                                                                       (Image credit: Luca Bruno/AP Photo)

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake that hit northern Italy Sunday night killed seven people and damaged $200 million worth of cheese and agricultural supplies.

The quake struck parts of Bologna, Modena and Mantova, which are known for their Parmesan and Grana Padano cheeses.

The Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Consortium reported that 300,000 wheels of cheese fell from maturing racks and 10 cheese storage facilities were damaged.  Producers are trying to salvage the surviving cheese before mold sets in.

Although some of the damage wheels can be used in the short term, they are estimating that 10 percent of the Parmesan industry will be affected.

Cesare Casella, chef of Salumeria Rosi, spoke with producers in Grana Padano to get an idea of the damage that had been done.

"The point is that yes, they say 'they lost $250,000,000 worth of cheese.'  But I don't think there is going to be a shortage.  I think they are going to raise the price because maybe it's a good opportunity to raise the price," said Casella.

The wheels of cheese age anywhere between 12 to 24 months and can cost up to $530 per wheel.

Producer Oriano Caretti told the Associated Press, "Considering that what you see here represents the work of seven companies for two years, this means that the repercussions on the rural economy of these farms and this territory will feel it pretty badly."

The cheese-makers have resumed production despite the damages.

"Cows produce milk and it needs to be transformed," Caretti said.

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