As the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues to claim victims around the world, restaurants and cafes remain closed as social distancing measures are still in place. French cheesemakers have seen a 60 percent slump in sales.
According to Michel Lacoste, the president of the National Council of Appellations of Diary Origin (CNAOL), around 5,000 tons of cheese – including Roquefort, camembert and brie – could all go to waste.
Mr Lacoste said: “There are producers experiencing drops in prices that are catastrophic.
“Today it’s the France of 1,000 cheeses that are being threatened.”
He also revealed that more than 1,000 tons of cheese has already been destroyed, given away or melted down and sold at a lower rate.
Mr Lacoste added that French cheesemakers have already lost more than €157 million since the lockdown began.
French cheeses such as Emmental, Selles-sur-Cher and Forum de Montbrison will, under government rules, will temporarily change their production methods to conserve their cheeses for longer.
As the coronavirus broke out during the seasonal peak of European milk production, the demand for high-value cheeses has dropped.
This had led farmers to have an abundant supply of dairy products such as butter and milk powder.
A European Commission official told journalists on Monday: “That, in turn, creates a temporary overshoot in production… and puts pressure on the overall market.”
Following pressure from the EU governments, French farmers have been paid by the European Commission to temporarily store more than 18,000 tones of cheese in order to keep it off the market during the pandemic.
Brussels also announced private storage aid for dairy products such as butter and skimmed milk powder.
However, some farmers are demanding the EU pay them to reduce production rather than stockpiling cheese which until the market is up and running again.
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Erwin Schöpges, the European Mile Board lobby president, is organising protests in eight EU countries by dumping milk powder in fields this week.
France, like many European countries, has begun to ease lockdown restrictions and have started to reopen the economy but social distancing rules are still in effect.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the worldwide stock market, with airlines being one of the most affected.
This week, the US stock market dropped by 200 points as tensions mount between China and the US after Donald Trump blamed Beijing for starting the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of US states are starting to let non-essential businesses reopen and are already easing stay-at-home orders to try and restart the economy.
Investors are reportedly concerned over the ongoing disputes between China and the US.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was a “significant amount of evidence” connecting the coronavirus outbreak to a lab in Wuhan.
President Donald Trump also said he was considering imposing tariffs on the Communist nation for its handling of the outbreak.
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