During the pandemic, when the pace of life slowed, many people revisited their interest in the food they eat – including its place of origin and the complexity of varying flavor profiles.

Among the big beneficiaries was Italian cheeses, said Jenny Englert, senior marketing manager for Saputo Specialty Cheese, a division of Montreal-based Saputo. In 2021, for instance, Italian cheese exports rose by nearly 20%.

Two years later, artisanal and authentic Italian cheeses and other foods have continued to grow in popularity as Americans become more familiar with the promise of assured quality and authenticity the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) designation carries, Englert said.

“With the demand for PDO on the rise in America, Saputo has leaned in to supply US consumers with two of Italy’s most-beloved exported cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, under its leading specialty Italian cheese brand, Stella.”

Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, both of which Saputo introduced in 2021, are two of the world’s most beloved cheeses in Italy and beyond. The two varieties make up 30% of the cheese purchased in Italy, and the US accounts for 20% of overall export share of Parmigiano Reggiano.

A record 3.9 million wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano were produced in 2020, Englert said. And volumes continue to grow: Sales at the end of 2022 rose 12% and volumes 7.3% from the year before at the same time.

Grana Padano volumes also are up. Sales at the end of 2022 were up 9.5% and volumes were up 10% from the year before.

In 2023, Saputo is celebrating the centennial of the Stella brand. Retailers can look forward to new products before year’s end and marketing that draws attention to the landmark.