Holy cow: Overwhelmed with too much cheese, French monks seek salvation online

Paris, France: An emergency online sale popped up in Burgandy, by a regional French monastery calling on buyers to buy a special variant of cheese at slashed prices. 

It was the monks trying their best to get rid of thousands of their prized artisanal cheese, languishing in the cellars amid a sharp decline in demand for COVID-19. 

"We tried explaining to our 75 cows that they needed to produce less milk but they don't seem to have understood," brother Jean-Claude, in charge of marketing at the monastery founded in 1098, told AFP.

The semi-soft discs of cheese made from raw milk are sold by the Citeaux abbey just south of Dijon to only visitors of the restaurants who make it to the on-site shop after a trek.

But a drop in demand since the coronavirus crisis erupted last year has left the abbey's 19 Trappist monks with 4,000 cheeses too many -- the equivalent of 2.8 tonnes.

"Our sales are down nearly 50 percent," he said, with French restaurants still closed since October 30 as authorities try to curb the third wave of cases. "We need to clear out our stock."

It's a sin for fans of a cheese made by the monks since 1925, which won the silver medal at last year's international food and drink competition in Lyon, a bastion of France's culinary heritage.

Teaming up with the internet start-up Divine Box, the monks are expecting to sell at least a ton of the cheeses by Tuesday. 

The minimum order is two wheels at 23 euros ($27) each, plus shipping.

"We're going to make it," Jean-Claude said, with more than 700 kilograms already ordered according to the site.

Share this story