Where does feta go when it leaves Greece?
In 1996 Greece obtained a PDO, (Protected Designation of Origin), for feta, but this was only the beginning of a long legal battle. In 2005 feta was ruled to be a Greek product and therefore other countries were no longer able to produce it under that name.
Although 85% of the feta in Europe is consumed in Greece, world levels of feta consumption are high. Greek feta cheese exports are rising during the last years, to 35 countries in 5 continents (Europe, Asia, North America, Australia and Africa). Specifically for 2012, according to Greek Statistical Service, 3 countries, i.e. Germany, United Kingdom and Italy, account for 65.89% of total feta cheese exports. Cyprus follows accounting for 7.91% of Greek feta cheese exports, Sweden for 7.77%, USA for 5.72%, Austria for 3.56%, Australia for 3.55%, France for 2.13%, Switzerland for 1.89% and Bulgaria for 20.01%.
Apart from the rich and distinctive salty taste, feta improves with age. It can be stored almost indefinitely as the salt helps preserve it. It is versatile and can be used in salads, sandwiches or just about any dish you wish. Some web sites list Feta as the ‘8th best cheese in the world’. Where they get these statics from is anybody’s guess, but it is popular with readers of these sites. It is tasty, but not too strong, generally easily found and not too expensive.
Feta is one of the most popular soft cheeses in the world, along with Brie and Camembert from France, and Gorgonzola and Mozzarella from Italy. That said, Brie, Camembert and Gorgonzola all have a strong flavour and are said by some to be an acquired taste. Mozzarella has little taste unless drizzled with Olive Oil and herbs or used on a pizza. This leaves feta as being most likely to suit the majority of people.
photo by Rebecca Siegel