I currently live in Pisa, Italy and my question is about bringing Parmigiano back to the states.
I have a family business I goto in Parma that is willing to pack up the cheese and mail it to me, but there are customs issues on the italian side and the US side.
The cheese is vacuum sealed and marked with the Parmigiano official markings.
What do I need to do to be able to import a wheel of Parmigiano back to the states? Of course it would be in individually sealed 1 kilo packages.
What are the maximum limits at one time in the mail?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Let's forget for a moment the issue of US customs, import regulations, FDA and so forth.
The cost of shippping a one lb package from US to Italy is $20.00 by Priority Mail, and $30.50 via Express Mail. From Italy to the US is usually higher, but let's assume is same. Let's say you choose Priority Mail's equivalent.
A wheel of Parmigiano weights 80 lbs, so you have 80 packages, or $1,600 just in postage. Obviously, I'm not counting the cost of the cheese itself.
Now, a high quality wheel Parmigiano ( "Vacche Rosse" ) can be had in the US for about $3,000: http://www.cheesesupply.com/product_i...
In one piece, which holds much better.
And again, that's ignoring customs, FDA, nasty regulations & so on and so forth.
That's the very basics. Now... Caveat emptor!
I have a couple of problems with this advice. First of all, just because the parmigiano is "vacche rose" does not mean it is of high quality. The vacche rosse is nothing more than the breed of red cow that makes the milk used to make the parmigiano. Now assurance on quality, that depends on the producer. As stated in the thread as well, there really are no nasty regulations, and the FDA is not involved in this capacity anyway.
Secondly, you can ship in packages larger than 1lbs. They could ship the whole wheel. It would absolutely not cost $1600 in postage to ship that back to the U.S. unless they did break it up into 1lbs packages which really would not make sense at all. Heck, they could box it up and bring it on the plane for a lot less than that, probably just the cost of overweight luggage for less than $100.
Lastly, there is nothing like buying your chesse from over there. Plus it has been said that the best wheels of cheese are not sent over to the U.S. to distributors they are kept for Italian consumer, so you may be able to find a better quality wheel by buying direct from the producer whose product you have tasted.
aged cheeses such as a parmigiano are no problem, especially when vacuum sealed. my wife recently brought back a ton of cheese from italy....no issue at all....try bring any meat back however, that is a whole 'nother issue...someone is enjoying my wild boar salami right now, but it is not me.
I strongly recommend that you contact U.S. Customs and print their response. It all boils down to the judgement of the customs inspector you have to deal with upon your return home. Their opinions vary. If you have a print-out of the official position, you'll be in a much stronger position.
I have no idea what the imprt/export regulations are on either side of the ocean. I'd say the best bet would be to ask the Italian and US customs offices rather than rely on anecdotal advice on this board. (No offence to the members here.) I mean, you're going to spend a lot of $$$ to buy the cheese and ship it and you want to be very sure it isn't confiscated along the way because of some bureaucratic oversight.