2012 Italy Exporter Guide

An Expert's View about Food , Beverages and Tobacco in Italy

Posted on: 30 Dec 2012

This report offers information for U.S. companies interested in exporting food and agricultural products to Italy.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 08/10/2012 GAIN Report Number: IT1127 Italy Exporter Guide 2012 Italy Exporter Guide Approved By: Christine Sloop Prepared By: Dana Biasetti Report Highlights: This report offers information for U.S. companies interested in exporting food and agricultural products to Italy, including an overview of the country's economic situation, market structure, export requirements, and best product export opportunities. Post: Rome Author Defined: Section I. Italian Market Overview Macro Economic Situation & Key Demographic Trends Italy has a diversified industrial economy, divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with high unemployment. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family owned. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 17% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors. Italy is the third-largest economy in the euro-zone, but exceptionally high public debt burdens and structural impediments to growth have rendered it vulnerable to scrutiny by financial markets. Public debt has increased steadily since 2007, reaching 120% of GDP in 2011, and borrowing costs on sovereign government debt have risen to record levels. During the second half of 2011, the government passed a series of three austerity packages to balance its budget by 2013 and decrease its public debt burden. These measures included a hike in the value-added tax, pension reforms, and cuts to public administration. The government also faces pressure from investors and European partners to address Italy's long-standing structural impediments to growth, such as an inflexible labor market and widespread tax evasion. The international financial crisis worsened conditions in Italy's labor market, with unemployment rising from 6.2% in 2007 to 8.4% in 2011, however, in the longer-term Italy's low fertility rate and quota-driven immigration policies will increasingly strain its economy. The euro-zone crisis along with Italian austerity measures has reduced exports and domestic demand, slowing Italy's recovery. Italy's GDP is still 5% below its 2007 pre-crisis level. Italy has few natural resources. With much land unsuited for farming, Italy is a net food importer. There are no substantial deposits of iron, coal, or oil. Proven natural gas reserves, mainly in the Po Valley and offshore in the Adriatic, constitute the country's most important mineral resource. Most raw materials needed for manufacturing and more than 80% of the country's energy sources are imported. Italy's economic strength is in the processing and the manufacturing of goods, primarily in small and medium-sized family-owned firms. Its major industries are precision machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electric goods, fashion, and clothing. Unemployment and GDP in 2011 In 2011, Italy's unemployment rate reached 8.4 percent, while GDP was $2.246 trillion. Italy’s Economic Ties Italy's closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts more than 60% of its total trade. Italy's largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Italy continues to grapple with the effects of globalization, where certain countries (notably China) have eroded the Italian lower-end industrial product sector. U.S. Ag Trade Balance with Italy This deficit represents approximately 40 percent of total U.S. age trade deficit with the EU, due largely to the lack of market access, especially for GMO products, poultry (chlorine wash), beef (growth hormones). Bilateral Ag Trade 2011 U.S. Ag Exports to Italy $1.1B U.S Ag Imports from Italy $3.5B Tree Nuts: $177 million Wine: $1,494 million Wheat: $159 million Olive Oil: $526 million Hardwood Lumber: $76 million Cheese: $312 million Italy is a Major Food Processor and a Net Agricultural Importer U.S. exports mostly Bulk Commodities to Italy. Italy exports mainly Consumer Products to the U.S. Agriculture Italy's agriculture is typical of the division between the agricultures of the northern and southern countries of the European Union. The northern part of Italy produces primarily grains, soybeans, meat, and dairy products, while the south specializes in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat. Even though much of its mountainous terrain is unsuitable for farming, 3.9 percent of the population is employed in farming. Most farms are small, with the average size being only seven hectares. Main Agricultural Products--wheat, rice, grapes, olives, citrus fruits, potatoes, corn, soybeans, wine, beef, and dairy products. Agriculture accounts for 2% of GDP. Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France or the United Kingdom. Italian industries, including the food-processing sector, rely heavily on imports of raw materials. Italy is one of the largest agricultural producer and food processors in the European Union (EU). Italy’s major food and agricultural trading partners are EU Member States, with neighboring France and Germany each accounting for slightly less than a fifth of Italy's agricultural trade. Major agricultural exports consist of wine, pasta, olive oil, cheeses, and fruits and vegetables. The export market drives the Italian food-processing sector. Outside of the EU, Italy must compete in global food markets, and the weak dollar versus strong euro has continued to exert a negative pressure on Italian food export prospects. Italian perception of the place and role of Italian food in the global marketplace is closely tied to the concept of protected designations of origin, or geographic indications. Although products with geographic indications represent only a small fraction of the total value of Italian food production, they play a major role in Italy's national food export marketing strategy to portray its products as 'high quality and Italian”. Population & Language Italy has a population of roughly 60 million. Italian is the official language and is spoken in all parts of Italy, although some minority groups in the Alto Adige and Aosta regions speak German and French, respectively. Correspondence with Italian firms, especially for an initial contact, should be in Italian. If a reply comes in English then the subsequent correspondence with the Italian firm can be in English. The use of Italian is not only regarded as a courtesy, but assures prompt attention, and prevents inaccuracies that might arise in translation. Most large commercial firms are able to correspond in various languages in addition to English and Italian, but a business overture or proposal is given more serious attention if written in Italian. Labor Unemployment is a regional issue in Italy -- low in the north, high in the south. Chronic problems of inadequate infrastructure, corruption, and organized crime act as disincentives to investment and job creation in the south. A significant underground economy absorbs substantial numbers of people, but they work for low wages and without standard social benefits and protections. Women and youth have significantly higher rates of unemployment than do men. Italian Importers and Retailers Italian importers are usually small to medium-sized companies, rather than the large, market- dominating types found in northern Europe. Consequently, these companies import smaller volumes and a broader range than their much larger European counterparts do. Most imported food products enter the Italian market through brokers or specialized traders. Price is always important, although quality and novelty alone do move some imported products. Imported products from North America often enter Italy indirectly from the Netherlands' Port of Rotterdam, or directly by air. Processed food is primarily distributed through retail grocers, convenience stores and discount grocers. Italian retail chain outlets have started to make their own purchasing decisions. Success in introducing your product to the Italian market depends on acquiring local representation and personal contact. The advantages of local representation include market knowledge, up-to-date information, and guidance on business practices and trade law, sales contacts, and market development expertise. Finding the right Italian agent, distributor, or business partner is therefore, essential to enter the Italian market. It is usually not effective to rely on agents or distributors in neighboring markets, since despite the existence of the EU common market, the Italian market remains very individual. Advantages and Challenges for U.S. Exporters in Italy Advantages Challenges High consumer interest in new Competition from similar food products produced in other products. EU countries that enter tariff free. The tourism industry increases Price competition is fierce. demand for hotel, restaurant, and institutional products. U.S. products are viewed as “trendy, Strong cultural presumptions that Italian food products new and innovative,” especially those are superior to those of foreign suppliers. with added benefits of health and lifestyle. Growing niche market for ethnic Ingrained political opposition to modern biotechnology, foods. Italians are traveling more, which leads distribution chains to avoid GMO products. becoming aware of foreign cuisines. Weak dollar versus a strong EURO Mandatory customs duties, sanitary inspections, and favors U.S. exports. labeling requirements can be onerous. U.S. fast food chains, theme Need to develop and invest in the relationship with the restaurants, and the food processing Italian trade contacts and the marketing of the product. industry often request U.S. origin Supermarket and hypermarket shelf space and product ingredients. placement is expensive. Section II. Exporter Business Tips Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards As a member of the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) governs Italy’s agricultural sector. Similarly, Italy employs the same tariffs and border measures as the other EU member states. Product imported into Italy must meet all Italian and EU food safety and quality standards, as well as labeling and packaging regulations. It is important to work with experienced importers, and/or have an agent to work with Italian regulatory authorities to ensure the acceptability of specific products. Personal relationships and language ability are of value when conducting business transactions. It is also advisable for the agent to contact health authorities at the port of entry as interpretation of health directives may vary from port to port. For more information on Product Trade Restrictions, Food Standards and Regulations, please refer to Post’s FAIRS GAIN Report IT1206. Section III. Market Sector Structure and Trends The Italian Food Retail Sector Italy's food and drink market is very mature, and remains relatively unconsolidated, and dominated by medium-sized, privately owned companies. Many Italian consumers have a strong bias towards well- known and long-established brands, making market entry difficult and limiting opportunities for revenue growth. A strong food culture means that Italy has one of the highest levels of per capita spending on food in the world, spending more than 20% of their disposable income on food, beverages, and tobacco. However, over the last decade consumption has been adversely impacted by both relatively low economic growth and unfavorable demographics. Italy Food Consumption Indicators - Historical Data & Forecasts 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Food consumption (EURbn) 123 125 127 129 132 134 Food consumption (US$bn) 158 152 160 162 165 168 Per capita food consumption (EUR) 2,022 2,056 2,092 2,131 2,171 2,213 Per capita food consumption (US$) 2,609 2,509 2,636 2,664 2,714 2,766 Total food consumption growth (EUR) 0.82 1.81 1.85 1.91 1.90 1.93 Per capita growth rate (EUR) -79.5% 67.8% 75.1% 84.7% 87.5% 93.9% Food consumption as % GDP 7.85% 7.73% 7.60% 7.47% 7.35% 7.23% Source: National Institute of Statistics – ISTAT and BMI Business Monitor In Italy, there are about 4 million foreign residents and food retail outlets have started to cater to these consumers with more foreign and ethnic foods, but these offerings remain small in the face of traditional Italian cuisine. With Europe's Muslim population growing rapidly, halal butcher shops and restaurants are becoming more commonplace, and there is an increased crossover between Muslim and non-Muslim cuisine. More than 1 million Muslims now live in Italy, and, according to reports, halal foods are making inroads into the local cuisine alongside North African and Middle Eastern spices. Continuing tendencies toward smaller families, later marriages, and an increasing number of women in the workforce are resulting in food retail outlets offering ready-made, ready-to-serve products and a wider range of products. Italian households still prefer fresh rather than frozen and frozen to canned food, as shopping frequency is greater in Italy than in many other European markets. The Italian grocery retail sector is one of the most fragmented and least saturated in Western Europe and many of the leading brands exist as networks of smaller companies. On the surface this would suggest there were opportunities for the big global retailers to expand rapidly in the Italian market. However, the current price dynamics make it unlikely that any mainstream international retailers will see the market as a particularly attractive destination for investment now. Most of the supermarkets, hypermarkets, and large shopping malls are mainly located in the North of Italy, while the south continues to lag behind with fewer retail outlets and a still underdeveloped distribution network. Large retailers have started to source products from buying groups who can ensure better deals with suppliers, while some large food retailers have decided to join buying groups to increase their advantage when dealing with suppliers. Although buying groups are largely the precinct of large chain food retailers, independent retailers have started to understand their value. A number of large multinational retailers have either merged or made acquisition agreements with local Italian players, in order to assimilate expertise and avoid strict Italian regulations. Discount retailers are slowing emerging in the Italian market, but have had to modify their market approach by catering to Italian consumer preferences. Hard discounting in the past has proven not to work in Italy but by modifying their image and offering a mix of branded and private label products they seem to have made inroads with the Italian consumer. Private label products have also seen a surge in acceptance by Italian consumers. Each retailer has begun to offer a variety of private label food products, targeting different types of consumers, especially in the organic or typical regional categories. The two most important foreign retailers currently present in Italy are Carrefour and Auchan. Auchan has chosen to enter the Italian market with various formats; hypermarkets, supermarkets, department stores, variety stores and hardware stores, while Carrefour’s formats include hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores, with supermarkets being their best performer. The Italian Hotel and Food Service Industry Every year more than 94 million tourists visit Italy, making it the world's fourth most attractive tourist destination. The Italian Hotel and Food Service Industry is a lucrative and growing sector (it is the second largest in the world after the United States); however, it is also diverse and fragmented. It is dominated by many small establishments, bed and breakfast, youth hostels, camping’s, resorts and rural tourism belonging to foreign investors. Most imported food products enter the Italian market through brokers or specialized traders. Imported products from North America often enter Italy indirectly via the Netherlands' Port of Rotterdam or directly by air. Wholesalers are the main customers for fish and seafood products, as they purchase and distribute to numerous small restaurants and hotels. Most of the processed food and raw material sourcing decisions are made directly by the restaurant chef and/or hotel Food Purchasing Director. Restaurants, hotels, and catering companies tend to rely on importers, wholesalers, and food manufacturers, while trattorias and pizzerias purchase directly from large retail food outlets. While there are Category Associations for the Hotel and Food Service sectors, each establishment operates independently when it comes to sourcing decisions. Changing Italian lifestyles, with more workers now forced to spend their lunch hours outside of the home due to either longer commuting times or shorter lunch breaks, have given a boost to the food service industry. Italy is slowly moving towards trends and lifestyles seen in other European countries, and it is forecast that an increasing numbers of consumers will eat out during their lunch breaks and possibly also for their evening meals because of their jobs, long working hours and business meetings. In the future very few will be able to have a siesta in the afternoon, while most will have to cut down on their lunch break time. Although lunch breaks are likely to become shorter, it is unlikely that most Italians will eat lunch at their desks. Italians still prefer leaving the office for a quick bite. Section IV. Best Prospects for U.S. Agricultural, Fish and Forestry Exports U.S. bulk and intermediate commodities are used as ingredients or inputs for value-added Italian products re-exported. North American high-quality durum wheat, for example, is used to produce pasta. Italy is the world’s fifth largest importer of seafood products, with an estimated annual consumption of almost 20 kilograms of fish and seafood. Last year Italy imported $43 million from the United States in seafood products. Opportunities exist in the supply of fish, especially tuna, salmon, crab, surimi, roe, seafood for the canning industry, frozen fish fillets such as hake, cod and plaice to meet the demand for convenient, ready-to-prepare products, peeled and processed shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, octopus and lobster. Opportunities also exist for fruit berries, condiments, fruit juices, and tree nuts, all sectors that have seen growth in recent years. Key Trade & Demographic Information - Italy 2012 Agricultural, Fish/Forestry Imports from the U.S. Consumer Food Imports from $1.945 billion (est.) the U.S. $348, 579,671million Fish and Seafood Imports from the U.S. Unemployment Rate: $43 million 8.4 percent Italian Population Total Rural Population: 61,016,804 20 Million Foreign Population Total Urban Population: 4 million 40 Million Major City Centers and Population: Per Capita Income: Rome 3.357 million; Milan 2.962 million; Naples 2.27 million; Turin $30,900 1.662 million; Palermo 872,000 Gross Domestic Product: Labor Force $2.25 trillion 25.08 million Exchange Rate: EURO per U.S. Dollar Avera ge 2011: €0.710 = $1.00 Source: BICO, ISTAT, Global Trade Atlas, European Central Bank, and CIA Fact Book U.S. Exports to Italy Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau and the Foreign Trade Statistics 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Jan - Jan - May May 2011 2012 Partne Product Value Value Value Value Value Value Value Period/Perio r d % Change (Value) Italy(* FAS Total 1,604,77 1,791,54 1,494,37 1,626,26 1,860,55 841,70 615,98 -27 ) 1 0 1 7 3 0 2 Italy(* Livestock 668,522 701,700 621,854 759,564 937,743 420,79 332,00 -21 ) & Meats 0 9 Italy(* Horticultur 248,553 328,053 305,313 289,980 318,323 113,31 109,41 -3 ) al Products 4 4 Italy(* Tree Nuts 138,820 141,403 125,999 139,520 176,984 54,715 53,854 -2 ) And Preparatio ns Italy(* Other 73,831 87,260 88,468 75,221 68,440 33,890 25,809 -24 ) Hort Products Italy(* Vegetables 16,969 81,373 72,081 54,844 55,600 18,566 24,262 31 ) and Preparatio ns Italy(* Fruits and 18,933 18,017 18,764 20,395 17,300 6,144 5,489 -11 ) Preparatio ns Italy(* Grains & 199,646 189,943 128,172 152,193 204,719 107,69 44,855 -58 ) Feeds 6 Italy(* Wheat 155,761 102,748 108,160 140,113 159,373 77,078 38,528 -50 ) Italy(* Feed, 31,499 30,528 14,140 7,410 16,651 11,799 3,936 -67 ) Ingrd & Fod Italy(* Grain 9,857 53,934 0 0 10,144 10,144 0 -- ) Sorghum Italy(* Corn 0 0 31 0 7,598 4,193 0 -- ) Italy(* Grn & Feed 2,227 2,042 2,639 3,860 6,601 2,578 1,600 -38 ) Misc Italy(* Crs Grn 110 217 32 413 4,186 1,839 15 -99 ) Products Italy(* Rice 192 475 436 383 164 65 756 1,062 ) Italy(* Wheat 0 0 1,823 0 3 0 17 -- ) Flour Italy(* Wheat 0 0 912 13 0 0 3 -- ) Products Italy(* Forest 228,543 191,004 139,762 185,819 161,018 91,570 52,888 -42 ) Products Italy(* Fishery 84,354 81,152 83,740 89,654 88,204 28,858 25,288 -12 ) Products Italy(* Cotton, 25,651 18,755 6,889 15,624 43,060 30,825 7,780 -75 ) Linters & Waste Italy(* Oilseeds & 103,011 214,032 155,637 80,558 41,707 21,200 11,956 -44 ) Products Italy(* Planting 22,606 40,128 31,409 33,403 38,231 17,325 17,898 3 ) Seeds Italy(* Sugar & 13,704 12,584 14,198 11,995 21,177 8,754 7,779 -11 ) Tropical Products Italy(* Poultry & 3,623 8,177 4,670 3,122 3,007 904 5,007 454 ) Products Italy(* Tobacco & 2,317 222 1,469 1,964 2,167 140 620 343 ) Products Italy(* Dairy & 4,240 5,790 1,258 2,390 1,198 326 487 49 ) Products Section V. Italian Map, Local Time, and Holidays Local Time The time zone for Italy is 6 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Holidays Italian holidays must be taken into account when planning to do business in Italy. July and August are not good months for conducting business in Italy since most business firms are closed for vacation during this period. The same is true during the Christmas and New Year period. Italian commercial holidays are listed below and are when most commercial offices and banks are closed. Certain other days are celebrated as holidays within local jurisdictions. Italian holidays are also observed by the U.S. Embassy and should be considered when contacting the Office of Agricultural Affairs. When an Italian holiday falls on a Saturday, offices and stores are closed. Listed below are Italian (I) and U.S. holidays (A) for 2012 Date Holiday January 1, Sunday* New Year's Day (A&I) January 6, Friday Epiphany (I) January 16, Third Monday Martin Luther King's Birthday (A) February 20, Third Monday President's Day (A) April 9, Monday Easter Monday (I) April 25, Wednesday Anniversary of Liberation (I) May 1, Tuesday Labor Day (I) May 28, Last Monday Memorial Day (A) June 2, Saturday** Foundation of the Italian Republic (I) June 24, Sunday** St. John's Day (I) (Florence only) June 29, Friday St. Peter and St. Paul's Day (I) (Rome only) July 4, Wednesday Independence Day (A) August 15, Wednesday Assumption Day (I) September 3, First Monday Labor Day (A) September 19, Wednesday St. Gennaro's Day (I) (Naples only) October 8, Second Monday Columbus Day (A) November 1, Thursday All Saints' Day (I) November 11, Sunday* Veterans' Day (A) November 22, Fourth Thursday Thanksgiving Day (A) December 7, Friday St. Ambrogio's Day (I) (Milan only) December 8, Saturday** Feast of the Immaculate Conception (I) December 25, Tuesday Christmas Day (A&I) December 26, Wednesday St. Stephen's Day (I) Section VI. Key Contacts USDA FAS Contacts in Rome, Italy Office of Agricultural Affairs, Foreign Agricultural Service, American Embassy, Via Veneto 119a Rome, 00187, Italy Webpage: http://Italy.usembassy.gov/agtrade.html E-mail: agrome@fas.usda.gov Tel: (011) (39) 06 4674 2396 Fax: (011) (39) 06 4788 7008 Fax Christine Sloop, Agricultural Counselor E-mail: Christine.Sloop@fas.usda.gov Dana Biasetti, Senior Agricultural Specialist E-mail: Dana.Biasetti@fas.usda.gov Key Italian Government Agencies and Associations Ministero delle Politiche Agricole e Forestali (Ministry of Agriculture) Via XX Settembre 20 00187 Roma Tel: +39-06-46651 Ministero della Sanita’ (Ministry of Health) Piazzale Marconi 25, Palazzo Italia, 00144 Eur-Roma Tel: +39-06-5996966 Fax: +39-06-59946217 Ministero delle Economia e delle Finanze (Ministry of Treasury) Agenzia delle Dogane (Customs Agency) Via M. Carucci 71, 00143 Roma Tel. +39-06-50241 Istituto per il Commercio Estero (Italian Trade Commission) Via Liszt 21 00144 Roma (EUR) Tel: +39-06-59921 Fax: +39-06-5422-0066 ANEIOA (National Importers/Exporters Horticultural Association) Via Sabotino 46 00195 Roma Tel: +39-06-3751-5147 Fax: +39-06-372-3569 ANIPO (National Importers/Exporters Horticultural Association) Largo Brindisi 5 00182 Roma Tel: +39-06-7726-401 Fax: +39-06-700-4428 FEDERAGROALIMENTARE (Italian National Food Organization) Via Gigli d'Oro 21 00186 Roma Tel: +39-06-689-341 Fax: +39-06-689-3409 FEDERVINI (Wine Trade Assoc) Via Mentana 2B 00185 Roma Tel: +39-06-4469-421 Fax: +39-06-494-1566 IIAS Istituto Italiano Alimenti Surgelati (Italian Frozen Foods Association) Via Castelfidardo 8 00185 Roma Tel: +39-06-42741472 Fax: +39-06-42011168 UNA (Poultry Union) Via V. Mariano 58 00189 Roma Tel: +39-06-3325-841 Fax: +39-06-3325-2427 UNICEB (Livestock Meat Traders) Viale dei Campioni 13 00144 Roma Tel: +39-06-592-1241 Fax: +39-06-592-1478 UNIPI (Pasta Traders Assoc) Via Po 102, 00198 Roma Tel: +39-06-854-3291 Fax: +39-06-841-5132
Posted: 30 December 2012

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