How widespread is counterfeit cheese

Cheese: the decline of the Emmentaler

How the Emmentaler conquered the world

1st century before and after Christ
The Romans invade and spread the art of rennet cheese in what is now Switzerland. So far, sour milk cheese made from goat and sheep milk has predominated, whereby the natural curdling of the milk is used. The rennet technique brings longer shelf life and better portability.

From the 5th century
With the fall of the Roman Empire, trade and with it the rennet dairy also declined. For self-sufficiency, the Alemanni again mainly produce sour cheese, which is easier to make. The knowledge about rennet dairy survived in the monasteries of the early Middle Ages.

From the middle of the 15th century
The Roman Catholic Church allows cities, monasteries and regions to consume dairy products during Lent - if they buy "butter letters". Thanks to the Reformation movement, there are many food bans in all of Europe, which over time leads to more demand for butter and cheese.

“Emmenthaler Käss” is mentioned in writing for the first time - as a donation from a bailiff residing in Aarburg to the needy. In 1557 a "beautiful Emmenthaler Käss" was noted as a wedding gift in Burgdorf. In both cases, however, it is still a pure designation of origin.

17th century
The rennet dairy thrives mainly thanks to exports to France, Italy and Germany. A large amount of cheese also goes to Holland on whey rivers and Rhine ships, whose seafarers appreciate the long-lasting cheese as an overseas provision.

A significant part of the trade is controlled by the Count of Gruyère. Gruyère cheese experts are also involved in the boom in other regions. The cheese from the different regions hardly differed at that time, neither in size nor in the type of holes. During this time, Emmentaler was known abroad as “Gruyère de l’Emmental”.

Late 19th century
The holes establish themselves as trademarks. Because Russia imposes import duties on cheese not based on weight, but on size, loaves of up to 100 kilos are made. After the Vienna stock market crash in 1873, many cheese makers and cheese traders lost their livelihoods. Thousands of people emigrate to France, Germany, Russia, Greece, Turkey or the USA - they carry Emmentaler and the “Swiss Cheese” label all over the world.