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Friday 30 September 2011

Patricia Covarrubia

Brazil gives a cheese market news

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On Tuesday 27th the Brazilian Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (INPI) granted Geographical Indication (GI) in the form of Indication of Source (Indicação de Procedência) to an artisanal cheese called ‘Queijo Minas Artesanal do Serro’ from Minas Gerais. From this date, the Association of Artisanal Cheese Producers Serro (APAQS) has a period of 60 days to pay the fee required and once fulfiled, INPI will issue the said certificate.

The production of the claimed cheese has its tradition introduced by the Portuguese more specifically those from Serra da Estrela, when they colonized the country. The city of Serro is situated in one of the riches states of Brazil Minas Gerais that not only has vast reserves of iron and sizeable reserves of gold and gemstones, but also is the main producer of coffee and milk in the country. Therefore, as the gold mines were exhausted the city of Serro intensified its agricultural activity and the cheese was a product that guaranteed income not only for the city but also for the state.

Back in 1958 and 1959, José de Assis Ribeiro produced scientific work in which he described the way of manufacturing this cheese. As the history goes, the tradition passed from father to son (we better ask our grannies to keep recipes! – as a Venezuelan I think of tequeños OMG!!). INPI informs that the real challenge was to make the artisanal product to accomplish food safety standards without losing the characteristics that differentiate it from others.

Just as a curiosity I dug into the traditional Portuguese cheese from Serra da Estrela which actually holds PDO protection in the EU; then automatically went to see the GI list given by the EU to Colombia and Peru – just foreseeing any potential problem when Brazil exports this cheese to these countries. The cheese is on the list! Anyways, can it be any trouble? I do not think that there will be any confusion. On one hand we have ‘Queijo Minas Artesanal do Serro’ and on the other ‘Queijo Serra da Estrela' -- also note that (please help me out here if I am wrong)the Brazilian cheese is made of cow's milk while the Portuguese one is made of ewe's milk. I have actually try the (delicious) Portuguese one and I would love to try the Brazilian one!! (contributions to my cause are welcome).

Any thoughts? Do you have a similar story with products in your country? I bet you can think of one – in Latin America we have kept many traditional foodstuff products brought by the Europeans, so please share your anecdote here.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia