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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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The Italian Dairy Industry between 1930 and 1970. Production and Organizational Structure (Claudio Besana)


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The Italian Dairy Industry between 1930 and 1970

Production and Organizational Structure

Claudio BESANA

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

1. The production of cheese in Italy in the 1937 Production Census

The 1937 Production Census, which was supervised by the Central Institute of Statistics of the Italian Kingdom, concerned only some sectors of the production. Among the census data is The processing industry of milk and its by-products.1 We have, therefore, a long series of data that allow us to outline the situation of the sector seventy years after the industrializing processes of the sector began. These processes led to the first separation between production of butter and cheese and the other activities carried out in farms.2

A butter production of 447,000 quintals emerges from the census. This is a very different amount from that recorded in the countries most involved in the production of this milk product.3 The manufacture of butter was effectively concentrated in Northern Italy (437,000 quintals), in particular in Lombardy (181,000 quintals) and Emilia (104,000 quintals). With regard to cheese production, the 1937 census surveys led to an estimated amount of 2,229,000 quintals. Such a share set Italy at third place among ← 71 | 72 → the world’s cheese producers, behind the USA and Germany, but ahead of France.4

Just like that of butter, the production of cheese was concentrated in Northern Italy, where...

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