51 PDO sectors committed to a sustainable quality process
PDO cheeses, butters and creams are guaranteed high-quality and distinctive food made with full respect for the environment and animal welfare. They are produced in dynamic sectors that support employment in rural areas, especially in underprivileged agricultural areas (mountains, foothills, intermediate belts, etc.). By their very definition, PDOs cannot be relocated.
A PDO is a collective property, with people and their know-how at the heart of the process. PDO sectors also invest in research and innovation with a view to honing their practices to promote sustainable development. And it could not be any other way: Since its region is the foundation of its identity, a PDO can only look to the future if it makes sure to preserve the region for the generations to come.
Yes to 100% local products!
From milk production to maturing, every stage of production in a dairy PDO is carried out in a single specific geographic area.
PDO products derive their authenticity and distinctiveness from this geographic origin, which is made up of natural and human factors.
The connection to the region is fundamental to all PDO specifications.
A PDO’s distinctiveness derives from its home region. Each product has specific sensory properties (taste, flavours, aromas, texture) linked to their conditions of production and their region (kind of soil, composition of meadows, local breed, climate, fermented products and the environment of the barn, dairy or maturing cellars). To gain the PDO label, producers must show and detail the connection between the product, its distinctiveness and its region of origin.
Raw milk cheeses are an expression of their regions
78% of PDO cheeses are made with raw milk, meaning they use a milk that had not been heated to above 40°C. That enables them to retain the microflora that is naturally present at the time of processing. This flora is very diverse! It varies depending on what the cows eat and the season and is unique to each farm and cheese dairy. It evolves during the cheesemaking, allowing for the development of intense aromas, flavours and colours. That makes it possible to offer a rich, aromatic and diverse range of cheeses.
To find out more about the wealth of raw milk cheeses and get recommendations, see www.fromagesaulaitcru.fr
Yes to the sustainable development of regions!
PDO cheeses, butters and cream create jobs in cattle-breeding and production workshops, jobs that cannot be relocated. And they help to safeguard biodiversity and maintain landscapes.
Dairy PDOs drive regional economies
PDOs cheeses, butters and creams drive the economies of the regions in which they are produced. They create jobs directly in the farms as well as in the processing and maturing workshops. Accordingly, the special skills and stringent production conditions required for PDOs generate 2.8 times more direct employment per 100,000 litres processed than for French dairy production as a whole. Indirect and ancillary employment has to be added on top of that, such as jobs created in supplying services to breeders and also in technical institutes, laboratories, craft workers and so on. It is estimated that 5 ancillary jobs are created for every direct agricultural job.
These jobs are required partly because of the creation of added value and the more balanced distribution across sectors. The quality of PDO milk is more optimised than for conventional milk and, in most cases, PDOs add enough value for higher prices to be paid to producers. PDOs generate more attractive production pools, with incubation and set-up strategies directly linked to the presence of PDOs. Finally, PDOs have demonstrated their capacity to act as counters to trends towards restructuring (thus maintaining small-scale operations and ensuring less significant stoppages), helping to preserve the agricultural and food fabric.
Significant economic influence that varies by region
In France, PDO dairies use 11.4% of collected cow’s milk, 13% of goat’s milk and 37% of sheep’s milk [Source: PDO key figures CNAOL-INAO 2020].
This processing level can reach much higher rates at regional level in specialist PDO areas. Around the Jura mountains, 60% of cow milk is used for PDOs while in Savoie the rate is close to 45%. In the Centre region, 50% of goat’s milk is used in PDO products. In goat’s milk production regions such as the Pyrénées Atlantiques, and in Roquefort-producing departments, 41% and 46% respectively is used for PDOs. It is clear, then, that dairy economic activity is totally tied to PDO production even if operators still need 100% of milk to be sold.
Yes to preserving tastes!
For each of the 51 PDO cheeses, butters and creams, skills are preserved and the richness of tastes is protected by specifications that are officially checked and by regular tasting by specialist commissions.
Collective, living skills
Borne of people’s inventiveness at using and conserving milk in an area, many different skills have been developed in regions, all reflecting the need to adapt to a raw material that is essentially variable, namely milk, whose composition changes over days and seasons. From the producer to the maturer, each link in the chain has its own extremely technical expertise, which may involve optimising pastureland in accordance with how the grass grows, controlling milk’s hygiene while using flora that is good for cheesemaking, selecting the right choices during processing depending on the milk’s properties on the day, modifying the maturing process to cater to the potential of each cheese, etc. All of these are part of noble trades that draw on time-honoured and complex skills that are continually perfected.
Authentic, non-standardised tastes
Thanks to the diversity of regions, technologies and skills, dairy PDOs are certain to provide a range of taste experiences that are always renewed. Dairy PDO specifications make it possible to oversee production practices and outline how products should be made. While this supervision ensures a certain commonality, it also upholds a taste diversity for a single cheese. For evidence of this, you simply have to taste a PDO featuring several cheeses or eat the same product in different seasons. Specifications are guarantors of regional expression and producers’ know-how. They make it possible to offer the opposite of standardised products that have been prepared to provide the same tastes all year round. For instance, the fact that herds’ diet varies significantly by season – with pasture grass in the summer and dry feeds in the winter – makes a notable difference to cheeses’ aromas and colours. Other more subtle factors affect the taste throughout the production process, which culminates in a unique cheese.
And long live real eating!
To choose PDO cheeses, butters and creams is to choose clean, natural products. This makes them ideal choices for anyone who wants to enjoy authentic pleasure any time of day and at any time of year!
Simple ingredients for a traditional product
As definitive natural food, cheese is made from the simplest possible ingredients: milk, rennet, salt and lactic ferment. Furthermore, the process for making PDO cheese is set out with complete transparency in specifications that can be viewed by consumers.
Fat, and plenty more
Milk fat has special nutritional value. It varies enormously, with 400 different fatty acids, and offers saturated fatty acids (SFA) and monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) with a very favourable ω6/ω3 ratio. In addition, cheese is among the leading providers of calcium and phosphorous. Cheese is also rich in zinc, retinol and vitamin B12 and is a source of vitamin B2, B9 and iodine. It also contains proteins with excellent nutritional quality.
Grazing is listed in dairy PDO specifications as one of the key factors in the connection with a region and it has a widely acknowledged impact on products’ sensory and nutritional properties. The bigger the proportion of pasture grass, the more the cheese is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids and vitamins A and E.
Values of conviviality and sharing
Because they are part of the local story, PDO products are very strongly associated with conviviality and sharing at meal time. As fundamental food, PDO cheeses are prominent in family dishes and distinctive local recipes in all regions, where they are enjoyed among families and introduced to friends. They are essential components of cheese platters, which they embellish with their authentic tastes and diversity