THE first batches of Bayonne ham have started to arrive for sale in the USA.
Last year the US government agreed to certify the product for import after five years of lobbying by French producers.
This week, after nearly a year of preparation and transport, the first batches are arriving.
The general director of one France's biggest producers of Bayonne ham Delpeyrat, Dominique Duprat, said that receiving a licence to export had not been easy, and included bowing to US requirements to have an inspector on the premises every day.
European regulations only stipulate visits by inspectors based on risk analysis.
Permission has been granted to all producers of Bayonne ham with an Indication géographique protégée label.
Delpeyrat, which produces 70% of France's Bayonne ham, hopes to export 50,000 hams a year, one tenth of the amount of Parma ham currently imported by the States.
The USA is one of the world's biggest consumers of Parma ham, buying 2,500 tonnes a year.
One person who will be bowing out of the market is the owner of the gourmet food company D'Artagnan which has been selling its own Bayonne ham (from the town of Bayonne, New Jersey) for years.
Ariane Daguin has promised to sell the real deal one it arrives in the USA.