Gallic gastronomic pride has taken a humiliating knock after it emerged yesterday that Italy’s mozzarella has dethroned Camembert as France’s cheese of choice.
amembert, which is made from cow’s milk, has long been France’s favourite fromage in a country with far more types of cheese than there are days in the year.
But according to the Norman union of Camembert producers, SNFC, since the start of the year, some 29,230 tons of Camembert have been sold in France compared with 33,170 tons of mozzarella.
“For the first time in France, the curve of Camembert sales, which has been dropping regularly by 3pc per year, has fallen below that of mozzarella sales, which for its part has seen an annual rise of 5pc,” said SNFC president Fabrice Collier.
He said that while the two cheeses were not consumed in the same way – Camembert is generally reserved for the cheese board while mozzarella is used in cooking – the fact that a French cheese had lost the top spot to a foreign interloper was a “particular concern for the sector”.
However, independent producers of traditional Camembert, which is made from raw milk, said multinational makers of industrial, pasteurised Camembert, which accounts for 90pc of sales, only had themselves to blame.
While a handful of traditional producers continued to employ techniques virtually unchanged since the French Revolution, industrial producers were making double-pasteurised tasteless Camembert, they argued.
Patrick Mercier, an organic Camembert maker, said: “Our sales are very healthy and have in fact gone up.”
But when it comes to pasteurised Camembert, “the consumer realises that the pleasure is no longer the same”.
“When you buy Camembert that has the right shape but not the old taste, you get disappointed customers. They thought they could live off the name forever. They were wrong.”
A year ago, industrial Camembert makers were banned from using the AOP (controlled designation of origin) label or the word Normandy on packaging. Mr Mercier said their howls over lost sales were a last-ditch bid to change labelling rules in their favour.
Telegraph Media Group Limited