The global rise in temperatures doesn’t just affect skiers in the mountains – French cheese producers are also feeling the heat.

Unpredictable grass growth, problems with access to water and heat stress for the cows are increasingly common issues for Alpine herds.

Hot days and summer droughts increasing

The Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Fromage Abondance (SIFA) has reported that the temperature has already increased by 2.6°C on average in the Savoie since 1900.

Defined ‘hot days’ are increasing, summer droughts are up and the duration of snow cover (generating water via melt) has significantly decreased (from 34 to 22 days in 50 years).

Spring starts earlier, autumn later

According to one farmer, the spring release date has already come forward by three weeks, with another three weeks gained by delaying the autumn return of the animals.

However, the issue is with the increasingly hot summers. Models suggest that temperatures will increase by 3°C in the valleys, but by up to 10°C in the mountains.

That affects the quality and quantity of the grass that grows and can also cause heat stress in the animals, which can reduce the amount of milk produced.

Storing water and hay in advance

The challenges are being mitigated with new reservoirs to store water from spring until summer, and extra space is being allocated to store spare hay if the grass becomes scarce.

We do not yet know how this will develop. Above we must not lose the varieties endemic to our region
Joël Vindret, director of SIFA

Lovers of Savoyard and Alpine specialities such as raclette, fondue and tartiflette will definitely agree!