The land of sheep and chocolate

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Charles de Gaul once asked how you could run a country with 246 different types of cheese. In fact he was wrong; France has more than 400 different types. He would have no such problem here.

New Zealand is famous for its dairy industry, which is responsible for half of its greenhouse gas emissions. With so much milk sloshing around, you’d think the cheese here would be brilliant, in the same way as the chocolate is. But you’d be wrong. Supermarket fridge shelves are full to bursting with cheese but it only come in 4 types, all of which are essentially the same. Mild tastes like mild cheddar. Tasty tastes like strong cheddar. Colby also tastes like mild cheddar, as does Edam.

The bizarre thing is that there are loads of dairy companies all making exactly the same range. At Countdown the other day, in a slightly French fug at the lack variety in cheese, I counted eight different ranges of Colby, Mild, Anchor and Tasty. That’s Mainland, Anchor, Valumetric, Basics, Signiture Range, Alpine, Dairy Fresh and another one as well. That’s 32 different varieties of identical cheese. Is this what Maggie meant by consumer choice?


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