Parmigiano Reggiano, the ‘king of cheese’ is selling for big bucks at Costco
A cut of this cheese doesn’t come cheap.
Costco is selling a 72-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano for a whopping $899.99 – more than a round trip to Italy where the stuff is made.
The big cheese, which can make roughly 2,160 servings of mac and cheese, is priced at $12.50 per pound including shipping. It’s aged for 24-months, imported from Italy and described as “extravagant.” Big spenders willing to fork over the cash can expect it in three business days.
The massive wheel is said to be made in the famous Parma and Reggio Emilia provinces in Italy, and can be savored by the slice, or as Costco recommends to: “transform any pasta, soup or salad into an exquisite gourmet experience.” The big box store even lists Italian red and white wine pairings like Montepulciano, Chianti or Pino Grigio.
Believe it or not — and in true Costco fashion — it’s actually a bang for your buck. Williams Sonoma is hawking an 80 pound variety for $2,499.95 online ($31 per pound), and Parmashop.com sells a 70 pound wheel for $910 ($13 a pound). On the cheaper scale, Jet.com has a 20 pounder for $345 ($17.25 per pound), and perhaps for the at-home chef, Amazon is selling two pounds of the aromatic stuff for $37 ($18.50 per pound).
The average price for the cheese is typically $20 or less at retail stores for cheese that’s aged for 12 months. At artisanal markets like Eataly it’ll cost you around $18 per pound, $5 more than Costco’s brand.
“Parmigiano Reggiano is considered the king of the cheese of the world,” Dino Borri, VP of Purchasing of Eataly USA, tells Moneyish. “It takes at least 12 months to produce it before you can sell it. The longer it’s aged, the more it costs, just like wine.”
And to make it, you have to play by the strict rules. Parmigiano Reggiano is a Protected Designation of Origin Product, or PDO for short, meaning it can only be made in specific areas in Emilia-Romagna.
“Not only does it have to be made only in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua, but made only with milk from cows born in those areas,” notes food historian, Francine Segan.
“Parmigiano Reggiano is made with high quality milk, natural fermenting agents and no additives. It is then aged a minimum of one year. Before each wheel of cheese receives the special insignia of Parmigiano Reggiano it is tested by independent cheese testers to insure that it is perfect,” she adds.
Other specialty cheeses don’t come cheap either. Bitto storico, also made from cow’s milk produced in the summer in the Valtelline valley in Lombardy, Italy costs around $150 per pound. Then there’s the fancy British cheese White Stilton Gold — made with real gold — available at only six creameries in the world for about $420 per pound. And more exotic kinds like Pule cheese, made with milk of Balkan donkeys from Serbia costs an astronomical $1,000 per pound.
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