Manchego cheese is a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) from the Spanish region La Mancha. Manchego PDO is very restrictive and, as a result, manchego cheese can only be made from registered sheep’s milk from La Mancha region. Mixtures of milk from other types of animals are not allowed, not even milk from other breeds of sheep.
Traditionally, manchego was consumed nationally, but its popularity overseas has grown exponentially, adding upward price pressure over the last decade. This success has led to manchego production almost doubling in ten years. In 2022, Manchego PDO totalled 88 million litres, up 3% year-on-year (y-o-y), which equates to 18,000 tonnes of manchego cheese and €220 million. Two-thirds of the produce is exported, mainly to the US market.
Last month, an outbreak of sheep pox left 3.5 million farm animals immobilised in La Mancha due to its high level of contagion. As a result, over 42,000 sheep have been slaughtered, leading to an estimated decline of nine million litres and 2,000 tonnes lower y-o-y manchego output in 2023, according to market participants. This expected drop in manchego output, together with increasing demand from the US, will be watchout factors for manchego prices throughout 2023.