Not grate: The price of parmesan is about to skyrocket

Pile of wrapped parmigiano reggiano cheese
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

As the pandemic rages on, we’re seeing all kinds of wildly fluctuating food costs. For example, the price of milk, which soared amid grocery store stockpiling and the closure of schools and restaurants early last year. Now, experts say that the price of one frankly essential dairy product is about to shoot sky-high. That product is parmesan cheese.

To explain the issue, Eat This, Not That turned to cheese expert Liz Thorpe. “Back in April 2020, cheesemakers were feeling the enormous loss of retail and foodservice business due to COVID,” Thorpe said. Then came last summer’s milk shortage—followed by a milk surplus—that sent prices spiking and dipping all over the place. The disparity made cheesemaking way more expensive. According to Eat This, Not That, the cost of producing parmesan at one Wisconsin cheese plant went up between 40% and 60% last year—which translates to higher cheese costs for consumers.

While shoppers may have already noticed the price increase on younger, fresher cheeses like mozzarella or cream cheese, parmesan has to age for at least 10 months before it hits store shelves. And since parmesan that was produced in the earlier days of the pandemic is on track to hit store shelves this spring, parmesan mavens may soon be faced with an unwelcome surprise. The article explains that, starting around April 2021, the price of parmesan will go up by $1.50-$2 for a pound and about $0.70-$0.75 for a wedge. We can expect that price jump to last for at least six months to reflect last year’s fluctuating milk prices. This is not an excuse to stockpile parmesan, of all things. But if you find yourself reaching for that sweet, aged wedge time and time again, now is the time to adjust your grocery budget.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

bagman818
Jubal Harshaw

Is this just Wisconsin/domestic “Parmesan”? Because if Parmigiano Reggiano is unaffected, I’m good.

That sounds super snobby, but the difference is dramatic, and, if you use it sparingly, it’ll last in the fringe for a surprisingly long time. Totally worth it.