Producers of fine quality wines should be allowed to combat the current credit crunch by offering them as collateral to secure bank loans, according to the chairman of Banca Popolare di Vicenza, Gianni Zonin of the famous winemaking family of the same name.
Parmigiano Reggiano is already used as collateral in Italy and Zonin said it was time for the Italian Banking Association (ABI) and farmer associations to sit down and hammer out a way for this practice to be extended not only to exclusive wines but also to quality products like prosciutto ham and other unique Italian food delights.
”If the quality of select Italian foods is unmatchable worldwide, there is no reason why this value should not be banked on as a means to guarantee credit,” Zonin observed in an interview published in Tuesday’s edition of the daily Corriere del Veneto.
The proposal got an immediate thumbs up from Italy’s minister for agriculture, Luca Zaia, who said ”it’s an excellent idea and has my full blessing.”
”Finance is not one of my responsibilities but I will most certainly discuss this proposal with (Economy) Minister Giulio Tremonti.”
According to Zaia, Zonin’s proposal ”not only responds to producers’ need for cash but also recognises that the excellence of Italian agricultural products represents a kind of gold reserve.” Banks like Credito Emiliano have been accepting Parmigiano Reggiano as collateral for loans for over 50 years and earlier this month there was even an attempt to steal the cheese from its vaults.
Should a producer default on a loan, the bank sells the wheels to recover the lost capital There are claims that Parmigiano has been used as tender since the Middle Ages.