Despite the many difficulties, Italian food industry on one hand still drives Italian economy, and on the other it is the jewel in the crown of the entire European food industry. Despite increasing counterfeiting that continues to attack our best products with no sign of contracting – rather, it seems that the global financial and economic crisis contributes to enhance it – whereas the prevention measures carried out at Community level – once again – are proving pretty weak. Despite the inscrutable proposals from the UK on food packaging ‘traffic lights’, foolish and useless as much as detrimental to consumers, who would end up favouring bizarre diets to the detriment of the Mediterranean diet, recently acknowledged by Unesco as a heritage of humanity. Fortunately, in addition to Italy, also other Countries like France oppose this proposal. Despite, reprehensible – all Italian – differences, that determine opposing positions on the ‘Made in Italy’ among the producers of the agricultural sector and the processing industry, at a time that – should favour a strong national unity, in view of Expo2015. Despite all of that, however, we may say that the Italian food industry is in good health, particularly at international level. In fact, the year just ended saw a growth in exports on annual basis of 7%, with sales significantly exceeding 26 billion Euro (approx. 20% of total sales). The Italian food sector, therefore, confirms its export-oriented mission, which it wants to protect and expand, to the extent that, on the average, one in two companies pursues – or is planning to promote – internationalisation activities in the near future. As a matter of fact, Italian production, based on quality and safety, is at the top in Europe for recognised PDO designations (Protected Designations of Origin), and is determined to avoid breaching the expectations of new markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC), or emerging markets such as Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey (MINT). On this basis, therefore, the Italian Food can still grow: the strategic benefits of WTO agreements reached in Bali in December last year and, above all, the food showcase managed by Expo2015 in Milan, can play a fundamental role in this respect. This means that our industry has space to move forward, progress, and advance, in spite of everything.
by Dante Marco De Faveri