Europe is attacking our good old boxes of Camembert - this new rule is already scandalizing cheesemakers

Brussels does not like the wooden boxes that contribute to the fame of our Camembert and wants a new rule on cheeses.

Europe is attacking our good old boxes of Camembert - this new rule is already scandalizing cheesemakers

Brussels does not like the wooden boxes that contribute to the fame of our Camembert and wants a new rule on cheeses. But other local products are also affected...

The traditional wooden boxes are emblems of French cheeses, notably Camembert, Pont-l'Évêque and Livarot. These boxes were designed in ancient times for the preservation of soft cheeses, allowing them to mature without losing their inimitable taste. Yet they may soon become relics of the past.

According to France Bleu Normandie, a European directive currently being studied plans to ban this type of packaging in the future, a measure which could come into force as early as 2030. The reason: these boxes do not benefit from a dedicated recycling, which poses a problem for the Brussels Commission. Currently, our beloved boxes of Camembert are in fact disposed of with other packaging waste. But the EU predicts a 19% increase in this waste by 2030 and intends to put the brakes on it. The directive in preparation therefore aims to make all packaging on the European market recyclable by then.

If this directive were adopted, the impact on the cheese manufacturing sector, in Normandy and elsewhere, would be considerable. David Aubrée, General Manager of the Réo cheese factory in Lessay and President of the Normandy AOP cheese association, underlines on France Bleu the historical and technical importance of these wooden boxes for Camembert. According to him, they are a key element of its international reputation and play a crucial role in its refining process.

Faced with this threat, producers are determined to fight to keep the wooden box for Camembert de Normandie AOP. They also highlight the challenges that a change in the specifications would represent, requiring several years of adaptation.

Concerns are not limited to cheese producers. The French wooden box manufacturing industry for the food industry, which represents 45 companies, 2,000 jobs, and a turnover of 260 million euros, could also be seriously affected. Among them, the Lacroix group, producer of 300 million boxes per year, expresses its hope of obtaining an exemption.

European deputies, including the Calvados deputy Stéphanie Yon Courtin, took up the matter. They plan to present an amendment on Thursday November 16, 2023 to exclude certain cheeses, including Camembert, as well as Normandy oyster baskets, from the European Commission's proposal.

This situation reveals a complex dilemma between environmental imperatives and the preservation of cultural and economic traditions. The outcome of this regulatory battle will determine not only the future of wooden cheese boxes, but also that of many players in the French agri-food industry.

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