Possible boom for Dutch mozzarella makers
The farmers hope to take bite of the Italian market as consumers steer clear of Italian mozzarella cheese after the contamination scare.3 April 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - Dutch buffalo farmers are gearing up for a boom as sales of Italian mozzarella cheese tumble. They are hoping that Dutch-made mozzarella could become a new classic to rival Gouda and Edam.
A handful of Dutch farmers are hoping to take a bite out of the Italian market with the crisis in the southern Campania region, famed for its 'mozzarella di buffalo'. Some 25 local makers used buffalo milk contaminated with dioxin to make the cheese, a consequence of the pile-up of waste dumped around Naples by the mafia.
Italy was swift to recall the contaminated cheese but the damage has been done. Some countries, including China and Japan, have already banned imports of Italian mozzarella, sending sales plummeting. Farmers in the Campania have reported a 30 percent drop in sales.
Rain-drenched Limburg in the south of the Netherlands is a far cry from the sun-soaked Campania region but the Italian buffaloes that live here do not appear to mind the change of scenery.
Frits Geraerts was one of the first to bring water buffaloes to the Netherlands from Italy back in 2001. He now owns around 170 buffaloes. As they are lined up to be milked, he explains that buffaloes produce a fraction of the volume that cows produce but that the milk is far richer and creamier and more nutritious.
Geraerts hopes recent events in Campania will make people more open to buying non-Italian mozzarella. Together with two other local producers, he is starting his own mozzarella label which he hopes will be the launching pad for bigger things.
[Radio Netherlands / ANP / Expatica]