The Italian Food Sector is resilient and strong. Italy is one of the global giants in F&B product exports worldwide, with almost US$ 50 billion value of food products exported annually. In an interview with Food Business Gulf & Middle East, Italian Trade Commissioner Amedeo Scarpa shares his views on food industry, the measures that have been taken to overcome the current pandemic situation and their future plans.
- What is Italian Trade Agency?
ITA – Italian Trade Agency is the Government Agency that under the aegis of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, supports the business development of Italian companies abroad and promotes the attraction of foreign investment in Italy. Our duty is to develop, facilitate and promote Italian economic and trade relations with foreign countries, focusing on the needs of Small Medium Enterprises, their Associations and partnerships. In the UAE we are present since 1988.
- Brief us on your activities?
ITA provides assistance to the Italian companies through a wide range of services such as information, support and consultancy services and it organizes a wealth of promotional activities (trade fairs and exhibitions, seminars, workshops, etc.) in order to foster exports and economic cooperation in all sectors, with the objective of increasing the effectiveness of the presence of Italian companies on international markets.
ITA Dubai selects and sponsors, official delegations (importers, distributors, retailers, operators of the ho.re.ca. channel, etc.) to the most important Italian fairs, including Cibus, Cibustec, Host, Sigep, Tuttofood and to initiatives carried out as part of the South Export Plan in Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily.
3. Could you share some Trade Figures between Italy-UAE Food & Agriculture sectors prior to the Covid 19 pandemic?
The total UAE quantities of agricultural and food products imported reached a value of 12.3 billion euros in 2019, 60%of which relates to fresh products and 40% to packaged products. Among the most imported products are fruit and vegetables, rice and cereals, meat, dairy products, spices, oils and fats, tea and coffee, sweets and confectionery.
In 2019, the last annual pre-pandemic survey, Italy was the 13th supplier country with an export value to the UAE of 290 million Euros (+ 21.8% on 2018) but with a market share still very low compared to our potential: 2.3%.
The UAE are the second-largest importer of Italian products in GCC after Saudi Arabia.
- What are the measures you have taken to overcome the current pandemic situation which affected the Italian Food and Agriculture sectors?
The Italian Food Sector is resilient and strong. Italy is one of the global giants in F&B product exports worldwide, with almost US$ 50 billion value of food products exported annually.
Italy’s innovations in food sector have ensured double digit growth in exports, globally. In the first half of 2020, Italian food and beverage exports amounted to over 22 billion Euros, up 3.5% on the same period in 2019. On top of the exports pyramid is Italian bakery products, that achieved 2.3 billion Euros in value and a double-digit growth of +15.6%. This is followed by processed and preserved fruit and vegetable exports, which touched 1.9 billion Euros in value, recording an increase of +6%, and dairy products with 1.8 billion Euros, at a growth rate of +0.8%.
In order to overcome the difficulties imposed by the pandemic situation which mainly hindered the movement of people, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in synergy with ITA, SACE and SIMEST entities has taken a series of important measures to promote and sustain the fairs system for all productive sectors and export services with important financial resources to be used for the communication, training of Italian companies, information, e-commerce, fairs and exhibitions, etc.
- Future plans?
In the year of EXPODUBAI, where Italy’s participation claim is “Beauty Connects People”, we insist on three main drivers: promotion with retailers; coordination of Italian exhibitors at UAE main f&b fairs; pushing the demand through high class restaurants in the UAE.
We just started a 1 year promotion campaign in favor of PDO’s and PGI’s Italian products. Our partner is Eataly, which globally will involve 2,100 Italian companies and will introduce over 1,000 new references of Italian products on its shelves, including those at Dubai Mall and Dubai Festival City Mall. The claim formula is Eat, Shop & Learn Italian Style. In the past years we did similar promotions with LuluHypermarket chains, Spinney’s and Waitrose. More are expected in the year of Expo.
About the fairs, ITA always organizes the presence of Italian companies at Speciality Food Festival, specifically oriented to the gourmet sector, and at Gulfood fair, the largest showcase of agri-food not only in the entire area of Gulf but throughout the Middle East. In our ITAlian Food Lab visitors taste new Italian flavors and recipes, with live cooking stations held by chefs specialized in Italian cuisine: an opportunity to display their talent and thus, increase their restaurant visibility. Through Masterclasses by starred Italian chefs we also draw attention to issues like zero waste food attitude, by encouraging responsible consumption and production.
Last but not least, every year in November, ITA is part of the world ” Italian Cuisine Week” organized all over the world by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its Embassies and Consulates, the Italian Cultural Centers and several private partners too. Get ready for next edition!
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