Simmental cows in a meadow
Simmental cows in a meadow

A guarantee of the product's quality

The AOC was created in France in 1905. It has been recognised internationally since 1958 (the Lisbon accord) and in Europe since 1992 as the appellation d’origine protégée (AOP, or designation of protected origin). AOC and AOP are synonymous, attesting to the same quality, but two different authorities issue the labels.

A product has to meet three conditions to apply for an appellation d’origine: it must come from a limited production area, comply with specific production standards and have established name recognition. Since 2011 France has had 46 AOP dairy products, including 43 cheeses, two butters and one cream. Affixing the AOP label or logo on all AOC-AOP packages has been mandatory since 1 May 2009.


A Simmental cow
A Simmental cow

The result of a history and a project

In 1961 Laguiole cheese obtained the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC, or designation of controlled origin), a national recognition resulting from a history and a project.

The history dates back to the 12th to 20th centuries, when monks and shepherds made the cheese and kept it alive, which in turn kept the region alive. The project dates back to 1960, when the Jeune Montagne cooperative—despite the agricultural crisis, despite the fact that the cheese no longer allowed farmers to earn a decent living, despite the Aubrac breed's decline, despite everything—decided that Laguiole could not die.

As soon as the cooperative was set up, it and the association did all they could to obtain the AOC for their cheese. The recent implementation of modern techniques has made the process more complex because the ministry had to be convinced that traditional production methods were simply adapted to modern tools. But in December 1961 the first Laguiole appellation d’origine contrôlée decree helped keep traditional dairy farms in business and slow down the rural exodus.

This year the AOC celebrates its 51st anniversary.


Young cheese
Young cheese

The schedule of specifications still sets the minimum time required to age Laguiole at four months but sales trends are increasingly pushing that period to between nine and 18 months. This signals the shift from a staple to a product enjoyed and recognised for its organoleptic and gustatory qualities.

National studies show that the AOP cheeses with the highest added value are made of raw milk from local breeds that feed on a specific diet (including mandatory pasturing). That finding gave the Laguiole association the satisfaction of knowing it had been on the right track all along.

Also, the bacterial-chemical quality of the milk used to make Laguiole ranks among the best in France.


Collecting hay
Collecting hay

Constantly changing product–territory interdependence

Since Laguiole obtained the AOC, the association and producers have continuously updated production conditions to meet the needs of the land, cows, cheese and other elements as best as possible.

Five decrees have amended the first one in 1961. Today the decree that the Ministries of Agriculture and the Economy signed on 28 July 2000, amended by the decree of 29 March 2004, governs the Laguiole AOP. 

A new decree will soon go into effect following the 2011 changes in the schedule of specifications.


The appellation decrees' main lines

The original decree of 21 December 1961

  • Name : Laguiole or Laguiole-Aubrac
  • Regulatory characteristics of Cantal cheese
  • Geographical area: corresponds to towns that have or had a buron on their soil
  • Cattle breeds traditionally adapted to the Aubrac region

15 February 1974

  • Name : Laguiole
  •  Geographical area: same
  •  Production period: 25 May to 30 October
  •  Cattle breeds traditionally adapted to the Aubrac region on pastures located at an elevation higher than 800 m above sea level
  • Maturation in local burons and cellars at temperatures lower than 14 °C

24 june 1976

  •  Deletion of the reference to Cantal and definition of Laguiole
  • Deletion of the limitation of the production period

29 décember 1986

  • Introduction of the requirement to keep a record of inputs and outputs
  • Introduction of the requirement to use the CNAOF label and logo

28 july 2000

  •  Minimum weight reduced to 25 kg
  •  Elimination of the minimum 3 mm rind thickness
  • Extension of the geographic area to the Lot and Truyère
  •  Simmental and Aubrac breeds after 1 January 2004
  • Maximum average production of 6,000 litres per lactating cow per year
  • Fodder from the geographical area except exemption
  • Pasture grazing at least 120 days
  •  Dry matter in basic winter ration at least 30% hay
  • Silage or baling only if pre-wilted
  • Maize silage prohibited after 1 January 2004
  • Better definition of the production method
  • Empreinte Embossed oval imprint: bull and Laguiole

29 march 2004

  • Extension to three towns in the canton of Chaudes-Aigues

Schedule of specifications for 2011, soon enacted by a decree:

All silage is now prohibited. The practice was eliminated throughout the area even before the definitive filing of the 2011 schedule of specifications.