When it comes to innovation, you have to give credit to Credito Emiliano, a bank in northern Italy that accepts cheese as collateral for a loan. It has done so since 1953. Whey cool, right?
Based in Reggio Emilia, Emilia-Romagna, an area that is the sole official source of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese we all know and love, Credito Emiliano — or Credem, as it is also known — provides the region’s cheese producers with low-interest loans and accepts, as collateral, wheels of freshly produced cheese.
As this illuminating (and not at all cheesy) video from Great Big Story explains, each wheel, when it’s ready to sell, can be worth thousands of dollars (they don’t call Parmesan “the king of cheese” for nothing), making loans made against them quite secure. But the wheels take anywhere from 18 to 36 months to age. So Credito Emiliano, a big bank that also makes traditional loans, stores and tends to the cheese wheels in a giant climate-controlled warehouse until they are ready for market.
“We take care of the cheese on behalf of the clients,” Roberto Frignani, the warehouse’s general director, tells Great Big Story. “We protect the producer’s investment basically from the cow to the bank.”
Of course, the bank is also protecting its own investments, since it sells the cheeses in cases of default: The more than 300,000 wheels of cheese it cares for in the warehouse are worth almost $174 million bucks.
That’s a lot of bread … for cheese.