Next time you fill out a loan application, don’t forget to mention how much cheese you have. At least one bank in Italy is perfectly happy to accept it as collateral.
Granted, this isn’t just any bank. And this isn’t just any cheese. According to Forbes, regional Italian bank Credito Meiliano has been dealing in cheese since 1953. They specifically work with producers of Parmigiano-Reggiano – often referred to as “The King of Cheeses,” as anyone who has every sprinkled in on pasta or shaved it into their salads can attest to. This awesome cheese ain’t cheap, so the bank knows that by holding onto for dairy farmers as it ages ensures their customers will come back for it when it’s time to sell. As Forbes writes, “Besides holding the cheese as insurance, [the bank] stores and ages the wheels in climate-controlled vaults for the duration of the loan. The farmers save on operating costs. And in turn, the bank gains some expertise about a risky industry.”
This decades old operation has recently received a lot of attention after it was the subject of a recent Harvard Business School study. “In my research I look at how operations affect financing and vice versa, and this was a prime example of how to tailor a financing infrastructure to the operating characteristics of a supply chain,” Nikolaos Trichakis, an assistant professor in the Technology and Operations Management unit at Harvard Business School told Forbes.
It’s a pretty interesting symbiotic relationship. If only you could pay off your student loans with some mozzarella.