The Citeaux Abbey just south of Dijon, cradle of the Cistercian Catholic order, generally sells its semi-soft raw milk records only to restaurants or visitors who visit its on-site shop.
But a drop in demand since the coronavirus crisis erupted last year has left the abbey’s 19 Trappist monks with 4,000 extra cheeses – the equivalent of 2.8 tonnes.
“We tried to explain to our 75 cows that they needed to produce less milk but they did not seem to have understood”, declared to AFP the brother Jean-Claude, in charge of the marketing of the monastery founded in 1098.
“Our sales are down nearly 50%,” he said, with French restaurants still closed since October 30 as authorities try to curb a third wave of cases. “We have to empty our stock.”
It’s a sin for lovers of a cheese made by monks since 1925, which won the silver medal at last year’s international food and drink competition in Lyon, the bastion of French culinary heritage.
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The monks have teamed up with internet start-up Divine Box, which sells products made by abbeys in France and elsewhere, with the aim of selling at least a ton of cheese by Tuesday.
The minimum order is two wheels at 23 € each, plus shipping costs.
“We will get there,” said Jean-Claude, with more than 700 kilos already ordered according to the site.