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Cheese Manufacturing in the Twentieth Century

The Italian Experience in an International Context


Edited By Rita Maria Michela d'Errico, Claudio Besana and Renato Ghezzi

Since the end of the nineteenth century the dairy sectors of some industrialised European and American countries have experienced a phase of growth that took place at a different rate and in a different manner in each country, and which was made possible by the availability of raw materials and a more widespread knowledge of scientific and technological methods. The sector’s expansion was favoured by a revolution in transport networks, the beginning of globalisation in world markets and, decisively, by advances in packaging and refrigeration techniques. Italy in particular, despite its low availability of raw materials compared to other countries, rose quickly throughout the last century to become one of the largest international producers and exporters of cheese, especially of high value PDO cheeses. What factors were behind this achievement and which were the strengths and weaknesses of the sector during the twentieth century? The articles presented in this volume attempt to provide an answer to these questions from different points of view and using different interpretative approaches. The geographical range covered by these studies also reaches beyond Italy in order to look at other countries with relatively ancient dairy traditions. This comparative approach, although limited to just a few countries, is important in that it allows us to describe the evolution of a milk and dairy sector which has had such a large influence on the economic life of many regions in the Italian peninsula.

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Switzerland’s Dairy Industry in the Twentieth Century. Small-scale Artisan Production Meets the Market Economy (Luigi Lorenzetti)


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Switzerland’s Dairy Industry in the Twentieth Century

Small-scale Artisan Production Meets the Market Economy


Università della Svizzera Italiana

1. Introduction

Cheese is one of the most iconic of Switzerland’s food products. Ever since the beginning of the modern era, the dairy industry has left its mark on a large portion of Switzerland’s alpine countryside, where cattle farming and alpiculture developed hand in hand with the manufacture of milk and cheese products for small-scale domestic consumption.1 The second half of the sixteenth century saw the introduction of new hard cheeses like Emmental, Gruyère and Sbrinz,2 whose long shelf-life and higher quality provided impetus to a rapidly growing export market.3 By the eighteenth century, cheese had become one of Switzerland’s biggest selling exports, with varieties unique to a number of different regions achieving widespread reputation,4 and collectively contributing to the image of the ‘pays des bergers’ so admired by A. von Haller, J.W. Goethe and J. Gotthelf. ← 53 | 54 →

Switzerland’s dairy economy underwent a second major upheaval during the nineteenth century, when a substantial portion of cheese manufacturing was moved from alpine and subalpine areas into the lowlands. There followed a sharp rise in the number of rural dairies in response to an increase in domestic and foreign demand for dairy products, the need to be closer to consumer markets, improved transport networks, and the desire to continue production throughout the year....

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