While some national governments are encouraging people to stay home and avoid contact with others during the pandemic, the French are being urged to buy cheese.
A downturn in international cheese trade is hitting the pockets of French fromagers, aka cheesemakers. To combat the decrease in international purchases of cheese, the French government is urging its citizens to eat more cheese (not unlike when the Belgians requested people to eat more french fries).
The “sales slump” in French cheese leaves around 5,000 tons of cheese to rot. French farmers are asking their government to pay them to not produce cheese, as there is no demand for the resulting surplus. The National Council of Appellations of Dairy Origin (CNAOL), an organization made up of producers who make the 45 different types of cheeses recognized by the European Union’s “geographical indication label,” has said that cheesemakers are experiencing “catastrophic” drops in prices.
Cheeses at the highest risk of spoiling include brie, Camembert, and Roquefort. The NCADO said 80% of cheeses have a shelf life of eight weeks or less. It also said the local fall in demand is contributing to the price slashing, as people have pivoted to focus on essentials.
Another factor in the French cheese crisis is the closure of specialty shops where a great deal of gourmet cheeses are sold.
“So eat cheese, make a fair trade act to maintain the French culture, the French tradition, the French heritage, that we all share,” Michel Lacoste, the president of the CNAOL, told CNN earlier this month.