U.S. tariffs grate on Italy's Parmesan cheesemakers

Italian Parmesan (R) and Pecorino Romano (L) cheese are displayed on a counter at a deli in Rome, Italy, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

MILAN (Reuters) - U.S. consumers will pay around $5 a kilogram more for Italian Parmesan cheese because of duties announced by Washington on a range of European goods, a cheesemaking consortium said on Thursday, complaining it was set to take an unfair hit in the trade spat.

According to Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano the duties on Parmesan products will go from $2.15 per kilogram to around $6 per kilo, meaning the U.S. consumer will have to pay more than $45 per kilo as of Oct. 18 from around $40 per kilo at present.

Nicola Bertinelli, president of the consortium, said he was dismayed at the move, adding it would unjustly impact one of the strongest sectors of Italy’s economy.

“Italy, which has got nothing to do with the Airbus consortium, finds itself having to foot a bill that is quite frankly meaningless,” he said.

The United States announced on Wednesday it would slap 10% tariffs on European-made Airbus AIR.PA planes and 25% duties on French wine, Scotch and Irish whiskies, and cheese from across the continent as punishment for illegal EU aircraft subsidies.

Last year the Parmesan Consortium sold around 2.4 billion euros worth of cheese to consumers, with more than 40% of production earmarked for export.

The United States is its second-biggest export market receiving around 10,000 tons of the cheese per year from a total export production of 54,000 tons.

Bertinelli called for the European Union to take extraordinary measures to make sure the tariffs did not have a traumatic impact on the industry.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Frances Kerry