Field of Science

Cheese banks (really!)

I love cheese. To eat it. In Italy they put cheese in the bank. They really roll the cheeses into a vault, where they age for a year or two.
Row upon row of 85-pound wheels of straw-colored Parmesan cheese, stacked some 33 feet high at a secure warehouse, age for as many as two years under the care of bank employees trained in the centuries-old art of Parmesan making.
So how much can that be worth?
Typically, a Parmesan maker who produces 7,000 wheels a year might put up 2,000 as collateral for a loan. According to Morini's calculations, each wheel is worth as much as 300 euros ($425), valuing the cheese collateral at 600,000 euros. The bank would then issue a loan of 60 percent to 70 percent of the value, so around 420,000 euros.
I wonder if they have similar arrangements elsewhere... Sheep banks in Australia? Pilsner banks in Czech Republic? Opium banks in Afghanistan? Vanilla banks in Madagascar?

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