Cheese lovers are in for a treat this weekend as the first international cheese fair gets underway in Bern.
The entire exhibition is devoted to one of Switzerland's most famous products with over 450 Swiss cheeses on show as well as 250 foreign cheeses.
Cheese of all kinds, from traditional gruyère, emmental and sbrinz to smoked schönriederli can be tried and bought at the cheese fair, called Fromage, which is taking place at Bern's expo salon.
Over 70 producers are taking part from both the cheese and dairy sector. Apart from tasting and buying visitors can also take part in cooking workshops and see how cheese is made.
Art and cheese
There are also several attractions on the theme of cheese such as the art and culture of cheese. Gourmets can also enjoy the works of art - all on a cheese theme - that won the Swiss Cheese Award 2002 at this year's national exhibition Expo.02.
Fromage is being run in tandem with another exhibition, WOHN-RAUM, which focuses on house and living ideas.
The cheese fair used to take place in Zurich but was moved to Bern when it was opened to the public for the first time.
"We thought that we should also open the fair to the public. It should certainly benefit both the industry and the consumers," said Kurt Bitterli from the Guilde des Fromagèrs.
Cheese loving Swiss
The Swiss are particularly proud of their cheese heritage and in the first nine months of 2002 ate a record 37,000 tonnes of the stuff.
Gruyère is the most popular Swiss cheese, followed by raclette and emmental. Italian mozzarella is the most popular foreign cheese.
But the milk industry has lately been facing the worst crisis in its history with falling prices, a saturated market and sharply reduced cheese exports.
In October, milk producers agreed to cut production by two per cent next year to keep demand stable and prices steady.
About half of Swiss milk is used to make cheese.
Fromage runs until Sunday, November 17.
swissinfo, Isobel Johnson
The first international cheese fair is underway in Bern.
450 Swiss cheeses are on show as well as 250 foreign cheeses.
Over 70 producers are taking part.
The Swiss love their cheese, eating 37,000 tons in the first nine months of 2002.