We The Italians | Italian good news: 2019 Report Ismea - Qualivita

Italian good news: 2019 Report Ismea - Qualivita

Italian good news: 2019 Report Ismea - Qualivita

  • WTI Magazine #125 Mar 16, 2020
  • 156

In the collective imagination of the global and interconnected consumer, to whom an offer of food from all over the world is addressed, the identity of the national heritage of food production is increasingly important. The products with a GI - Geographical Indication, by definition, but also for the reputation they gain on the market - are the natural bearers of the most qualifying attributes that define this distinctive identity: authenticity, tradition, taste, typicality, link with the territory of origin, safety, traceability.

These attributes, in the past, initially oriented the choices of a handful of "niche" consumers, who were particularly sensitive to quality in a multi-dimensional sense, but over time they have driven the progressive affirmation on the market of GIs, establishing that invaluable added value constituted by their distinctiveness and inimitability. In more recent years, these same attributes, and the fact that they were "told" by a geographical denomination and the content of information that it brings with it, have become decisive in the choices of an ever-widening world-wide audience of relatively high-income consumers, who find in food emotions, sensations, experiences related to a culture, a history, a place, perhaps known during a trip, a reading, a show.

Today these are the cornerstones on which many of the new dimensions of the concept of quality are grafted, which feeds the competitive challenges launched to the agri-food sector by the increasingly convinced European policies on sustainable development and environmental protection.

The signs of climate change are visible to all and have now consolidated the awareness of its dramatic consequences for the planet and the opportunity to take concrete action at all levels: from environmental regulations to the daily attention of individual citizens.

In this context, politics, in an attempt to find solutions to environmental problems, has recognized and officially entrusted agriculture and farmers with the task of promoting the mitigation of climate-altering emissions and climate change adaptation. The New Green Deal by the President of the European Commission, Mr von Der Leyen, the ambitious "green" pact between the Member States, expresses this mandate in the "Farm to fork" strategy, which recovers the model of the agri-food industry as a guarantor of food safety, health and animal welfare. Italy is the country that is best able to adopt this model, with its many GIs that focus on the traceability of supply chains, certification and protection of quality products, requiring that food products must remain healthy, nutritious and of high quality, while respecting the environment.

Since 1992, the GIs have been a precursor of this modern perception of global quality: each certified product has all the prerequisites - first and foremost, traceability, biodiversity conservation and landscape protection - for achieving the objectives of the New Green Deal or at least many of its points as an incentive.

In this scenario, the Italian agri-food system undoubtedly enjoys an enormous competitive advantage, with 824 Geographical Indication awards, of which 300 in the food sector (PDO - Protected Designation of Origin - PGI - Protected Geographical Indication - and TSG - Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) and 524 in the wine sector (PDO and PGI), confirming its position as the country with the highest number of certified products, ahead of France (686) and Spain (336).

It all seems to be clear and widely shared, but the protection of denominations, the strengthening of the teamwork orchestrated by the Protection Consortia and the regulatory support and governance policies, is a path full of pitfalls and hampered by several "checkpoints".

These obstacles have an impact above all on the entrepreneurial activity of the less important and structured GIs, and their implementation will be conditioned by the political will and the ability to streamline the bureaucratic-administrative apparatus. At the same time, it will be facilitated by institutional consultation on the consumer communication front and the creation of an organic system of "traceability" of information. But there are also other more complex obstacles, which have an impact also and above all on the large GI that make the reputation of Made in Italy, much more difficult to deal with because they are exogenous to the single country system and because their political or geopolitical nature transcends the codified rules of the market.

An example is represented by the trade wars and in particular by the new duties on US imports, on which we had breathed a sigh of relief only a few weeks ago, and which are again a real threat for several and significant national GIs (wines, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Gorgonzola PDO, Asiago PDO, Fontina PDO). On this terrain, estimates of possible losses for the Italian agri-food system and for some large GIs are sometimes overestimated by the climate of panic that is generated, while some of our appellations, such as those of wine, could also gain ground in markets that are currently the preserve of other competing European countries that will be subject to increased duties. But in any case, what is worrying is the uncertainty that all this generates in the GI system, which risks being victim of events that are totally out of the control of the sector concerned and that in any case affect some products that are symbols of Italian quality exports to the USA, such as Grana Padano PDO and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO.

In this context, the destiny of the GI is held hostage by international strategies that are measured in terms of the ability of EU diplomacy to find concrete solutions to unjustified retaliation, but it is still conditioned by the ability of our country's system to support with decision and concrete actions the entrepreneurial activity in farms that have invested in quality. As far as we are concerned, we will not fail to make our contribution to the strengthening of these capacities, continuing the work of analysis, monitoring and valorization of the denomination supply chains, with the awareness that the push towards certified products with a strong territoriality represents the main road to ensure the growth of our agriculture and our food industry.

Raffaele Borriello, General Manager Ismea


The PDOEconomy and the key role in polycentric Italy

Commenting on the sector data of the Italian PDOEconomy through the XVII Ismea-Qualivita Report, it is worthwhile to reiterate each time, with force, how the system of GIs represents a fundamental and undisputed driver of the agri-food districts of our country. Also for 2019 (production data 2018) there is a growth, which is part of the trend recorded over the years for the PDO PGI sector, with a production value of more than 800 GI that for the first time exceeds 16 billion euros and with exports exceeding the threshold of 9 billion, thanks to the work of more than 180,000 operators and the commitment of the 285 recognized protection consortia.

These are the results of the consolidation and growth of "strong production", but also of the new GI (over 300 million in value derived from products that have obtained recognition in the last 5 years), with 2019 which sees the addition to the basket of Puglia PGI olive oil, for the food industry, and Nizza PDO, for the wine sector. And a great work "under the track" of the supply chains, and in particular of the Consortia of protection, is the modification of the specifications that, in accordance with tradition and the productive vocation of GI food and wine excellence, are able to grasp the changes to adapt the production criteria to new needs - climate, environment, market - with a strong impact on growth, innovation and success of PDO PGI products (only in 2019 there are 12 changes for the food sector and 8 for the wine sector, in addition to 19 changes at the national level).

On the European horizon, a signal to the system came in 2019 with the new eAmbrosia database, launched by the Commission to facilitate access to information on EU GIs. A good signal, in fact, with which the EU gives an initial response to the need for tools capable of managing and disseminating GI production, but which is far from the standards of information and knowledge needed to make a qualitative leap forward. A leap that will only be possible when Europe takes charge of better management of the general information of the system, with an evolved platform, participated by the Protection Consortia and able to hook the flow of BigData, concretely affecting the digital dynamics.

Also at European level, a major priority that will be confirmed with the advent of the new decade is the promotion of the Green Deal and measures to make production and the lifestyle of citizens more sustainable. In this context, therefore, it is essential to reiterate once again the importance of the GI sector, which plays a central role in the sustainable development dynamics of territories and their economies. In this context, Italy cannot fail to assert itself with a strong and decisive position in the EU debate, particularly in relation to the new post-2020 CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), which requires an active role on legislative proposals relating to PDOs and PGIs, protection in the world scenario characterized by neo-protectionism and the introduction of tariffs and with the increasing centrality of international agreements, an instrument that has amply demonstrated its effectiveness in recent years.


A more in-depth analysis of the economic data and of the characteristics that invest the Italian PDO PGI system through the Permanent Observatory of the Fondazione Qualivita, can better focus, over the years, on a progressive "dual role of GIs". On the one hand, the emergence of a link of the PDOEconomy with the Italian food industry in which it manages to generate an added value in the sign of quality. On the other hand, the ability of the GI system to represent an element of quality widespread in the territories and a collector for the development of the local fabric.


The first element of this dual role can be seen in the increasingly strong growth that in recent years has had the use of PDO and PGI raw materials in the preparation of composite products, processed or transformed by the food industry. We have also been monitoring this phenomenon for two years now in the Ismea-Qualivita Report, which shows that among the top 50 Italian PDO and PGIs in terms of turnover, more than 35 have partnerships with the processing industry (70%), with a share of production destined for this sector that in more than one in four cases is more than 10%. This is a strategic sector for various reasons, capable of expanding the offer and visibility, opening new commercial outlets and overcoming the limits of the seasonality of some productions.

The experiences are many and also involve great giants, sometimes unsuspected, such as Findus, Ferrero, Coca Cola, up to McDonald's Italia, which for over ten years has been offering PDO PGI Italian products on its menus and promoting their distinctive features with communication activities. This is a great opportunity for GI production, with still very large growth areas, but which requires a strong role for consortia and companies to govern partnerships and establish relationships with the world of industry of wide and strategic scope, especially on the aspects of value and communication.

It should be stressed that this fruitful link between the PDO PGI system and the world of the food industry represents an all-Italian experience: in this context, our country can be a model of reference for the entire European community. If, in fact, the Food Information Regulation sets out the general criteria of commercial practices, prohibiting consumers from misleading them as to the recognition of the characteristics of the food product, only in Italy has the Ministry of Agricultural Affairs implemented European legislation with internal and specific rules and established the criteria for the use of the reference to a GI in the labelling, presentation or advertising of a food product. A cue that could be taken at European level, to develop a specific regulation in the light of the path that Italy has been successfully taking for several years.


The other aspect related to the role of Italian PDO PGI products passes, however, and inevitably, from the theme of tourism and economy widespread in the territories. For some time now, the growing importance of a country's agricultural and food heritage in terms of tourist attractiveness has been underlined, and also the data of the latest Report on Enogastronomic Tourism by Professor Garibaldi confirms this, highlighting how 71% of people travelling want to live memorable food and wine experiences and that 53% of tourists in the world have made a journey with this motivation in the last two years. In this context the GI in our country have really shaped the territory, creating the conditions for a renewed and richer tourist experience. Starting from the model of the world of wine - which for over thirty years has conceived the cellar as a place not only to produce wine, but also to get to know it and buy it - the phenomenon has become more and more popular in the sectors of oil, vinegars, cheeses and cured meats. This development has been supported by the work of companies and consortia, supported also by national legislation with the approval of the decree on wine tourism in 2019 and the subsequent extension to oil tourism in early 2020.

A further reflection to do, however, concerns the possibility of the GI to represent not only an element of tourist attraction, but a real glue in the field of land experience able to involve agriculture, craftsmanship, hotels, quality catering and cultural heritage. And in our opinion also to have a specific role in the revival of the small shops that are closing in the historical centers. The GI, as the most well-known and recognizable elements, can really play a central role in a territorial system of widespread quality, capable of affecting the tourist demand increasingly attentive to experience and authenticity. In this context, their role in the growing tourist sharing economy (booking portals) could be strengthened in order to link the hospitality in the territories with the "extended chain" of services that refer precisely to typical products: direct sales, tastings on the farm, history shops, cultural and sports experiences, cooking classes, catering, etc..

From this point of view, the turning point today is to identify actions and lines of intervention with which it is possible to facilitate the development of quality territorial economies, encouraging the participation of the various actors and the emergence of a real system around the strength of GI, or their ability to "support the experience" of the product and the territory.

This is why it is possible to speak of a dual role of GIs in Italy, which is expressed through two distinct but not conflicting (but complementary) tracks in the definition of a new balance. First, the affirmation of the PDO PGI as the cornerstone of an industrial development, which allows to fully unfold the potential of the vast and varied basket of quality products in the domestic market and abroad. Second, the PDO PGI that manage to sustain their value thanks to the local and artisanal peculiarity, capable of making the production experience visible in the territories (and livable), going to support a type of company that today lives on more tourist flows than the internal market.


Finally, returning to the pressing question of duties, it is necessary to reflect on the geopolitical role of GI as one of the main elements of identity and values of a country, beyond the economic issue. Europe has set up a shared system for the recognition and protection of GIs that it considers "an integral part of its living cultural and gastronomic heritage" and it is this recognition of diversity that generates empathy and facilitates relations and agreements, including economic ones, between countries. Applying duties on the Food and Wine sectors - sometimes even of little economic importance in trade relations - therefore seems to have an objective that, rather than investing in the economic sphere, goes to attack the cultural fabric of a country. This is why the protection and preservation of GIs is acquiring, in this global chessboard, a strategic geo-political role of primary importance.


In the light of these reflections, it is clear that Italian PDO PGIs, while representing a concrete development asset for the country, still need to be protected and safeguarded, today more than yesterday. In fact, the GI ecosystem presents a delicate balance between territorial development, the need for sustainability, animal welfare, preservation of identity, and market volatility. A balance that is a key factor in safeguarding, boosting and reviving the complex fabric of polycentric Italy, which finds its wealth and ferment even beyond the large productive districts. A balance that, on the other hand, is particularly vulnerable and is very much affected by the weaknesses of politics, the crisis of the markets and the counterfeiting phenomena. These vulnerabilities must be taken into account if we want the GI to continue to play the role that they have played in the development of the country to date. This means, therefore, the responsibility of Italy with respect to other countries and a constant presence at the EU tables, given that we are the main representatives and beneficiaries of the PDO PGI system. This is what our 2019 Report certifies.


The total estimated value of 16.2 billion euros of certified PDO and PGI agri-food and wine production in 2018 is +6.0% compared to 2017 and confirms the growth trend of the entire sector as well as the significant contribution to the overall turnover of the national agri-food sector which rises to about 20%.

An important performance also for exports, which see +2.5% growth in the value of exports of PDOs and PGIs in the food and wine sector, reaching 9 billion euros and maintaining a stable 21% share in Italian food exports. The largest contribution to this result is provided by the wine sector with a value of over 5.4 billion euros, while the value of PDOs and PGIs in the agri-food sector is more stable at +1% compared to 2017.

On the whole, therefore, there are positive signs of growth which, in over ten years, has consolidated the leading role of "made in Italy" food quality abroad and on the domestic market has expressed itself with a general improvement in food sales of fixed-weight GI products compared to their conventional counterparts: 2018 rewards, for example, sales of GI cheeses, which grew by +2% in quantity and +1.5% in value, compared to those of non-GI cheeses, which registered a decrease of -1.6% in volume and an increase in value of +0.6%.

Mauro Rosati, General Manager of the Fondazione Qualivita



The value of PDO PGI TSG grows by +6.0% in 2018: with over 16 billion in production, the GI sector represents almost 20% of the total value of the Italian agri-food sector; the growth is driven by the performance of the wine sector (+8%) but the trend in the agri-food sector is also excellent (+4%).

Exports grew by +2.6% to over €9 billion: the incidence on total agro-food exports remains stable at 21% due to an excellent overall result of the Italian agro-industry.


For the first time value above € 7 billion, +43% since 2008: in 2018 a new record for the agri-food industry in Italian PDO PGI TSG that reaches 7.26 billion in production value and grows by +3.8% compared to the already positive 2017.

Export from €3.6 billion for the Food GI, +218% since 2008: since 2008, exports of PDO PGI food products have grown annually in value (+1.2% on 2017); a third of exports in value is to non-EU countries (33%); the main markets are confirmed in Germany (20%), the USA (18%) and France (15%).


GI wine production in 2018 grew slightly, +0.8% on 2017: production of GI wine remains below the 25 million hectolitre threshold, the result of opposing trends between PDOs, which exceeded 16 million hectolitres (+7.4%), and PGIs, which remained at 8.3 million hectolitres (-10.3%).

The value of GI wine production is still growing: in 2018 the value of GI wine production rose to 3.6 billion euros (+8.1%), while bottled wines reached 8.9 billion (+7.9%), of which 7.3 billion represented by PDO wines.


Value spread between small production realities and large districts. All the provinces in Italy have an economic impact due to the IG Food and/or Wine chains: a system that characterizes the whole country even if the concentration of value is strong in some realities.

Five regions over €1 billion in value generated by GI: the first four regions in terms of economic impact are located in Northern Italy and concentrate 65% of the GI production value; the first five provinces exceed half of the total value generated at national level by the Food and Wine PDO PGI supply chains.