Gstaad's archbishop of cheese abdicates
Hanspeter Reust’s reign over his cheese diocese has come to an end. The operations director of Molkerei Gstaad, a co-operative that processes the milk from over 80 farmers into dairy products, is alleged to have intentionally mislabelled an eight tonne delivery of mountain cheese as more expensive alpine cheese. When the recipient, a certain Migros, uncovered the discrepancy, Reust feigned ignorance. The specialists were not fooled, however, and Migros’ threat to sever all business ties successfully pressured Reust into stepping down on Monday.
Should we try to keep a straight face about a scandal that ignites many of Switzerland's most hackneyed stereotypes? Yes we should. For the dispute of the country folk needs to be taken seriously for three reasons. Putting it bluntly, cheese matters. Saanenland has as many cows as inhabitants. Farming is still the third largest employment sector. Farms are also crucial to the well-being of the region and play a crucial role in maintaining Saanenland’s authenticity. Reust’s behaviour has called the partnership with Migros, and thus 20% of the Molkerei’s revenue, into question. If Migros were to follow through with its threats, the damage to local farming would be unprecedented.