- Title: What's truly Italian? Food fight foils 'Made in Italy' plan
- Date: 2nd June 2017
- Summary: BARMAN POURING 'APEROL' LIQUEUR INTO GLASS
- Embargoed: 16th June 2017 12:39
- Keywords: Parmesan wine logo pasta Mozzarella Prosecco food label Made in Italy ham export cheese food
- Location: ROME, SAN POSSIDONIO, MILAN, PADUA AND FLORENCE, ITALY / PARIS, FRANCE
- City: ROME, SAN POSSIDONIO, MILAN, PADUA AND FLORENCE, ITALY / PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0046JL58R1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: For the Italian government, it seemed like a recipe for success: create an official "Made in Italy" logo to defend the country's finest food exports from an army of foreign impersonators.
On supermarket shelves worldwide, a star-shaped logo would mark out real Italian cheeses, hams, pasta and sparkling wines from those that only look or sound Italian, such as Parmesan made in New Zealand or Prosecco bottled in Brazil.
But Rome has discovered that even the simplest recipe can go wrong. Instead of unifying Italy's food industry against a common enemy that is bagging billions of euros in sales, the government's proposal for a Made in Italy certification quickly created bitter divisions.
A row has erupted over what it means to be truly Italian, such as whether every single raw ingredient should be made in Italy. And now the project could be ditched altogether for lack of an industry consensus, according to two industry ministry sources who declined to be named as talks with food firms are ongoing.
One of the sources, an industry ministry official who is working on the project, said no final decision had been made yet and the Made in Italy sign was being studied and "technical checks" being carried out. He said it would only be launched if "it fully meets the requests of producers", adding that the food industry was split into several groups with conflicting views on the project.
The ministry announced the project at the end of last year and began consultations with food producers in March, in response to industry complaints that foreign-made foods masquerading as Italian produce were costing the country billions of euros in lost export sales.
A logo guaranteeing Italian origin would enable exporters to grab some of the roughly 60 billion euros ($67 billion) in annual global sales generated by foreign imitations, according to Italy's food producers' lobby, Federalimentare.
Marketing experts agree. Brand Finance, a global consultancy that compiles an index of the world's most valuable brands, estimates the scheme could add up to 5 percent to the enterprise value of small and medium-sized Italian food companies.
However, according to Federalimentare, members could not agree on a definition of Italian-made. Some took a hard line, insisting products be made entirely in Italy from ingredients sourced at home, while others argued for a less stringent approach.
Italian food producers can at least agree on one thing: that foreign rivals are competing unfairly by marketing distinctly Italian products, using words and symbols that suggest an Italian origin but listing the real provenance in fine print.
The Rome government had proposed a Made in Italy logo employing the symbols of the Italian republic: a star framed by olive and oak branches. The project was, however, constrained by EU rules.
The government planned to include products if their last "significant transformation" happened in Italy, the ministry official said - meaning, for example, sausages produced in Italy using imported meat would qualify for the label while ham made in a foreign plant of an Italian producer would not.
This would bring the logo into line with the European Customs Code governing country-of-origin labelling, but the plan satisfied neither side in the food fight. The purists balked at the idea of foreign ingredients being allowed, while other firms argued the rules were too stringent.
Hence the impasse that threatens the project.
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