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Cheese Manufacturing in the Twentieth Century

The Italian Experience in an International Context

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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 Multinationals and the Italian Agri-food Industries. The Dairy Sector (1974–1993) (Andrea M. Locatelli)

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The Multinationals and the Italian Agri-food Industries

The Dairy Sector (1974–1993)

Andrea M. LOCATELLI

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

1. Introduction: notes on the evolution of the food industry and dairy sector in the 1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s, productivity and profits within the food manufacturing industry increased significantly after the implementation of wide-ranging structural changes within the context of a period of transformation characterized by the fact that production was being overtaking by the consumer base as the driving force within the industry.1 The increasing size of companies and the appearance of foreign competitors were just two of the elements in this new landscape, which was also characterized by an increase in the number of producers specializing in local and traditional products. A host of new phenomena were materializing within the manufacturing industry as it began to develop strategies involving structural concentration on one hand and dispersion on the other, while in certain areas products were gaining a strong identification with their place of origin and some producers were developing “flexible specialization” techniques.2 A growing level of investment flooded into the sector throughout the 1980s, allowing it to achieve a higher level of restructuring and modernization than was possible for other industries. At the same time, the food industry’s manufacturing capacity was growing while the opposite was happening in other sectors, where production methods were undergoing a period of rationalization. ← 363 | 364 →

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