SHARE
COPY LINK

CHEESE

Cheesed-off Italians swap banks for Parmesan bonds

Fed up with their banks' reluctance to lend, an Italian dairy cooperative has raised €6 million by issuing bonds guaranteed by huge wheels of Parmesan cheese.

Cheesed-off Italians swap banks for Parmesan bonds
An Italian dairy cooperative has raised €6 million by issuing bonds guaranteed by Parmesan cheese. Photo: Francois Guillot

“We already have some loans but, after a certain point, the banks don't want to give you any more,” Andrea Setti, the financial controller of the 4 Madonne cooperative, told AFP.

The cooperative, based near Modena in northern Italy, produces the famous cheese from milk supplied by some 40 dairy farmers. It has seen business boom in recent years with production rising to 75,000 wheels a year and turnover hitting €24 million in 2014.

But when it sought additional funding to boost its presence in the US market and concentrate on longer-aged cheeses, the cooperative ran into a wall of indifference from traditional lenders still recovering from the 2007-08 financial crisis.

The solution lay in an Italian government-backed mini-bonds scheme under which investors provide funding for six years in return for a five percent yield backed by cheese assets valued at a 120 percent of the bonds' worth.

The principle behind the scheme is not entirely unheard of in the region; several banks already hold hundreds of thousands of parmesan wheels as guarantees of loans to local producers.

And the use of bonds to offset the capital costs involved in storing luxury products until maturity is already common in the whisky and wine industries.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ARCHAEOLOGY

Ancient skeletons buried hand in hand in Italy belonged to two men, researchers find

A pair of fifth-century skeletons buried hand in hand and known since their discovery in 2009 as the "lovers of Modena" are both men, researchers reported this week.

Ancient skeletons buried hand in hand in Italy belonged to two men, researchers find
Human bones found at a Roman site in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Unable to verify their sex, scientists had simply assumed the degraded skeletons belong to a man and a woman, possibly lovers who resided in the north Italian town famous for its vinegar.

But a new technique for analysing protein in tooth enamel has left no doubt that this was a same-sex burial.

Exactly why the two men were carefully laid to rest with their hands interlocked remains a mystery.

READ ALSO: 

Several of 11 other skeletons unearthed at the same burial site showed signs of violent injury consistent with warfare, according to the study, published in Scientific Reports.

“The two 'lovers' could have been war comrades or friends who died together during a skirmish and were thus buried in the same grave,” University of Bologna professor Frederico Lugli and colleagues speculated.

“Alternatively, the two individuals were relatives — possibly cousins or brothers given their similar ages — sharing the same grave due to their family bond.”

It seems unlikely, they continued, that they were buried as a same-sex couple. “Although we cannot exclude that these two individuals were actually in love, it is unlikely that people who buried them decided to show such a bond by positioning their bodies hand-in-hand,” the researchers concluded.

There are at least half-a-dozen other examples of adults buried with hands intertwined reaching back to Neolithic times 8,000 years ago, but all are thought to be man-and-woman couples.


The so-called Lovers of Mantua, discovered in northern Italy in 2007. Photo: Italian Culture Ministry/AFP

“The discovery of two adult males intentionally buried hand-in-hand may have profound implications for our understanding of funerary practices in Late Antiquity Italy,” the researchers said.

The technique used to distinguish sex is based on a protein, called amelogenin, that is expressed differently in the tooth enamel of men and women.

SHOW COMMENTS