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Heatwave set to send price of French cheese soaring

Farmers urge governments to take action to prevent prolonged shortages

Furvah Shah
Monday 08 August 2022 20:45 BST
Cattle have little water and green grass during the widespread heatwaves
Cattle have little water and green grass during the widespread heatwaves (Getty/iStock)

The cost of French and Swiss cheese is set to rise as droughts across Europe caused by heatwaves threaten to cause a milk shortage.

With the extreme heat causing the amount of available water and green grass to drop, farmers have warned they are facing shortages as they are forced to buy expensive fodder and sell dairy cattle to abattoirs.

“The situation is more than critical,” one French dairy farmer told The Times.

Heatwaves across Europe have caused widespread damage and disruption, such as wildfires and water shortages, with reduced food production being the latest knock-on effect.

The cost of cheese and other dairy products like milk and yoghurt is expected to rise as output has been reduced by up to 30 per cent in some locations.

In Switzerland, dairy farmer Michel Faeh told Le Temps that the once-green mountain pastures his 60 cattle would graze on are now unrecognisable.

“It’s as though our cattle were walking on crisps up there,” he said.

Some dairy farmers have seen a 30 per cent reduction in product output (Getty/iStock)

In France, farmers Dominique and Pierre Duperier said there was no water for their cows to drink in high mountain pastures so they have been driving water up to the cows every day, at a cost of €300 a week.

“We could take them down but the higher pastures bring a quality to the cheese in terms of its aromas that you don’t get at a lower level,” they told The Times.

Dominique de Buman, chairman of a cheese-making cooperative in Fribourg, Switzerland – which is the home of the iconic gruyère cheese – said production would be hit despite measures taken by farmers.

He said: “A fall can be predicted and we may even end up with a shortage of gruyère, given the strong demand for it.”

Anne-Marie Arsento-Curti, mayor of French village Castellar, owns 10 cows, 200 ewes and 450 goats. She said the production of her cheeses have been halved because of the extreme weather.

“The situation is more than critical,” she said. “We are no longer selling cheese in the local market. I am supplying my customers in dribs and drabs.”

Farmers are warning that as dairy cattle are sold to raise funds and prices of fodder also rises, a shortage of milk, cheese and other household essentials is to be expected.

They are warning that without government action, this shortage would carry on until the winter in France and Switzerland and could spread to other parts of Europe.

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