The most emblematic – and probably the best-known – of the blue cheeses, roquefort, will be present at the Cheese and Dairy Products Show. A given, but also a recognition from cheese lovers around the world... It was in the heart of Aveyron that roquefort was born, the first French cheese to have received a designation of origin, in 1925. The story of this blue-veined cheese is closely linked to a terroir: the chalky Combalou mountain in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, southeast of Rodez. It's one of the rare cheeses with a unique geographical location: the Roquefort caves. Formed naturally in the mountain by erosion and landslides, these caves, known as fleurines, are the sole and unique maturation sites for the cheese, where it must spend at least 14 days.
Only the maturation must be in Roquefort, the collection of Lacaune breed sheep's milk occurs within a much larger perimeter. It extends throughout the department of Aveyron and some municipalities of neighboring departments. In 2020, nearly 16,000 tons of Roquefort PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) were marketed (source: PDO dairy products).

An Exclusively Rare Cheese Described as the king of cheeses by Diderot and d'Alembert, roquefort is the oldest cheese Designation of Origin, obtained in 1925. Before this date, it was made with goat and sheep milk. Today, it is exclusively made from Lacaune breed sheep.

The exclusivity of roquefort explains its small production. There are 7 cheese manufacturers who collect milk only within the PDO geographical area. They thus ensure the continuity of traditional sheep and goat farming. The milk is then processed in 8 dairies in the area. Each farm, each dairy employs many trades, adding to the 3,000 breeders and 2,000 employees of the cheese-making industry many jobs in very diverse fields.
Picture of roquefort.

The quality of roquefort cheese is closely monitored by the General Confederation of Roquefort. Created with the PDO, this collective groups 25 members in its board of directors. It takes care of the quality of the milk, the promotion of the sector, and its territorial anchorage. More recently, with changes in society's relationship to food, the confederation also ensures food safety, agro-ecological transition, better conservation of fodder for the sheep flock, improved ergonomics of milking installations, as well as animal welfare. Then comes the test on the quality of the cheeses, essential to the reputation of roquefort.

Four times a year, a commission observes, smells, and tastes the product of the seven manufacturers. It consists of retired affineurs, local restaurateurs, or even cheese factory employees, all roquefort specialists. 21 criteria are submitted for their evaluation: color, creaminess, length in mouth...

Presence at the Cheese and Dairy Products Show Such an iconic cheese could not miss the Cheese and Dairy Products Show. In the 2024 edition (February 25-27, 2024), two producers will be present, as well as several cheesemongers promoting this emblematic product.

Thus, one will (re)discover the Compagnons Fromagers (booth 7.3 E059), Maison Gabriel Coulet (booth 7.3 D049). While the stalls at the show will allow tasting roquefort from the very famous Papillon brand, the Pastourelle brand, or even that of the Vieux Berger from Maison Combes.