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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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Enterprises, Trade and Industry in the Lombardy Dairy Sector. The Origins of Locatelli and Galbani (1860–1914) (Silvia A. Conca Messina)


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Enterprises, Trade and Industry in the Lombardy Dairy Sector

The Origins of Locatelli and Galbani (1860–1914)


University of Milan “La Statale”

1. Introduction

Italian dairy production has long been a marginal agricultural activity, except in the lower Po valley in the north of the country, where traditionally it had a prominent role in the local economy. In the last few decades of the nineteenth century, the sector shifted to a noteworthy economic position also in other areas of the peninsula, as the demand for Italian dairy products from domestic and international markets continuously increased (abroad, particularly in England and in the Americas, as a consequence of mass intercontinental migration). National Unification (1861), innovative technological processes and scientific knowledge, new machinery, the availability of steam and electric power and new preservation and transport systems allowed cheese production to grow continuously from 34,600 metric tons in 1861 to 181,400 in 1913. In 1894, exports of Italian cheese exceeded imports. In 1893–1900, Italy’s average annual export was 9,700 metric tons, while it reached an annual average of 27,500 between 1909 and 1913 (Tab. 1).1 ← 321 | 322 →

Table 1. Production and exports of cheese. Italy, 1861–1913 (in metric tons)

Source: ISTAT, L’Italia in 150 anni. Sommario di statistiche storiche 1861–2010, 2011, Table 13.23, p. 660 and Table 16.10, pp. 740–1.


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