Cheese can be stored at the bank as collateral in Italy

In Italy, there is a cheese bank named Credito Emiliano where the producers of Parmesan cheese can store their product in bank vaults as part of a banking program that accepts the expensive cheese as collateral for loans.

This debit program is an elegant way for Parmesan producers to pump cash into their business while their product is otherwise sitting on a shelf for the long aging process - their loan matures along with the cheese.

Since 1953, the regional bank Credito Emiliano has accepted curious collateral for small-business loans: giant wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Given Parmigiano-Reggiano's high value, cheese thefts have become more common in recent years.In the past two years, about 15 thousand wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese were stolen with a total value of 6 million Euros. The stolen cheese wheels are usually cut into small pieces and sold in the south part of Italy and Eastern Europe.

Using the cheese as collateral for loans is a practical solution to cheese makers cash flow problems, while also a low-risk investment for the bank, making it a win-win model.