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3 Some Disregarded Truths About the Italian Agro-Food Sector: Productivity, Environmental Sustainability, Quality and Excellence

3 Some Disregarded Truths About the Italian Agro-Food Sector: Productivity, Environmental Sustainability, Quality and Excellence

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288



M. Fortis and A. Sartori



third in 120 out of 704 products, in which world agro-food trade is broken down, in

terms of the average export price per unit. Quantity—Italy ranked first in the global

market shares of 23 food products and second and third in another 54, for a total of

77 “star products”. By 2014 the total had increased to 89 products (Symbola and

Coldiretti 2016).



6.4

6.4.1



The Italian Agro-Food Sector and the Food

and Beverage Industries

The Agro-Food Sector and the Importance

of the “Made in Italy” Food Industry



One of the most dynamic sectors in the Italian economy, particularly in the last

years, is the agro-food sector. When it comes to exports, from 2011 to 2014,

manufacturing exports increased by 6.1 %. The sectors which increased the most

were mechanical engineering (+8.4 %), vehicle transport (+9.3 %), food and beverages and tobacco increased even more significantly (+16.6 %) as did chemicals

(+16.9) (Istat 2015b).

Within the agro-food sector, Italy remains a net importer of many raw materials:

crops, livestock, forestry, fish and game; consequently, it has a trade deficit in these

products. The food industry, however, has obtained excellent results both in terms

of exports and trade surplus. It has become an impressive and increasingly competitive sector in terms of exports. While Italy might have a deficit of raw materials

and lightly processed products such as milk, fresh meat and fish, its typical “Made

in Italy” products thrust Italy at the very top echelons of the food and beverage

industry (Fortis 2015a,b).

The above statements are corroborated by an analysis covering a five-year

period, 2010–2014, the conclusions of which are reported in Table 6.1.

Agro-food exports in 2014 increased to €34.4 billion (a +2.7 % increase compared to the previous year). This positive result was obtained mostly thanks to food

industry exports which were €27.1 billion (a +3.5 % increase compared to 2013,

against a decrease of −0.1 % in agricultural exports). That same year, agro-food

imports were €40.3 billion (+3.1 %), evenly distributed among the primary sector

(€19.9 billion, +1.5 %) and the food industry (€20.4 billion, +4.8 %). The

agro-food sector, when considered in its entirety, suffered a trade deficit of −€5.9

billion.8 Nonetheless, it is important to highlight that both exports and the trade

balance of the agro-food sector are experiencing constant and encouraging growth.



The primary sector, in the five years from 2010–2014, imported more than it exported; thus it had

a constant trade deficit. The overall primary sector deficit was between €11 and €13 billion, while

the deficit for food products was between €11 and €12 billion.



8



8.6

7.3

0.8

2.5

19.2

17.5

0.1

0.3

0.1

1.6

1.2

0.3

1.9

0.8

0.6

2.7

2.9

1.4

0.3

0.5

0.3

0.2



7.6

7.0

0.8

2.4

17.8

16.1

0.1

0.3

0.1

1.5

0.7

0.3

1.7

0.9

0.5

2.7

2.9

1.2

0.3

0.5

0.4

0.1



Vegetables and fruit

Animals and meat

Forestry

Fishing and hunting

Total primary sector

–for human consuption

Rice

Flour

Pasta

Confectionery and bakery

Sugar

Processed meat

Processed fish

Processed vegetables

Processed fruit

Dairy

Oils and fats

Animal feed

Wine

Beer

Liqueurs and spirits

Ethyl alcohol



9.0

7.5

1.1

2.7

20.2

18.1

0.1

0.3

0.1

1.6

1.0

0.3

1.8

0.9

0.5

2.8

3.0

1.3

0.3

0.5

0.3

0.2



Imports (billion €)

2010 2011 2012



Products/Industries

9.0

7.4

0.7

2.5

19.6

17.9

0.1

0.3

0.1

1.7

1.1

0.4

2.0

0.9

0.5

3.0

3.1

1.5

0.3

0.5

0.3

0.2



2013

9.4

7.2

0.7

2.6

19.9

18.3

0.1

0.2

0.1

1.8

0.9

0.4

2.0

1.0

0.6

3.1

3.6

1.6

0.3

0.5

0.3

0.1



2014

5.2

1.2

0.1

0.3

6.8

6.0

0.5

0.2

1.8

2.6

0.1

1.1

0.2

1.7

0.9

1.9

1.6

0.3

4.3

0.1

0.6

0.0



5.3

1.3

0.2

0.4

7.1

6.2

0.5

0.2

2.0

2.8

0.2

1.2

0.2

1.8

1.0

2.1

1.7

0.3

4.8

0.1

0.6

0.0



5.3

1.3

0.2

0.3

7.1

6.1

0.5

0.3

2.1

3.1

0.2

1.3

0.2

1.9

1.1

2.2

1.8

0.4

5.1

0.1

0.7

0.0



Exports (billion €)

2010 2011 2012



Table 6.1 Italian agro-food: imports, exports and trade balance (2010–2014)



5.5

1.2

0.2

0.3

7.2

6.3

0.5

0.3

2.2

3.2

0.2

1.4

0.3

2.0

1.0

2.4

1.9

0.5

5.5

0.1

0.7

0.1



2013

5.4

1.3

0.2

0.3

7.2

6.3

0.5

0.3

2.3

3.3

0.1

1.4

0.3

2.1

1.0

2.5

1.8

0.6

5.5

0.2

0.7

0.0



2014

−2.4

−5.9

−0.7

−2.1

−11.0

−10.1

0.4

−0.1

1.7

1.1

−0.6

0.8

−1.5

0.9

0.4

−0.7

−1.3

−0.9

4.0

−0.4

0.2

−0.1



−3.7

−6.2

−0.9

−2.4

−13.1

−11.9

0.4

−0.1

1.9

1.2

−0.9

0.9

−1.6

0.9

0.5

−0.7

−1.3

−1.0

4.5

−0.4

0.3

−0.1



−3.3

−6.0

−0.6

−2.2

−12.1

−11.3

0.4

−0.1

2.0

1.5

−1.1

1.0

−1.6

1.0

0.5

−0.4

−1.2

−1.0

4.8

−0.4

0.3

−0.2



2014



−3.5

−3.9

−6.1

−5.9

−0.5

−0.6

−2.2

−2.3

−12.4 −12.7

−11.6 −12.0

0.4

0.4

0.0

0.0

2.1

2.2

1.4

1.5

−0.9

−0.8

1.0

1.1

−1.7

−1.7

1.1

1.1

0.5

0.5

−0.6

−0.6

−1.2

−1.7

−1.0

−1.0

5.1

5.2

−0.4

−0.3

0.4

0.4

−0.1

−0.1

(continued)



Trade balance (billion €)

2010

2011

2012

2013



6 Food & Wine: Quality, Tradition and Innovation

289



Imports (billion €)

2010 2011 2012

2013



2014

0.6

1.0

2.2

24.7

24.1

31.8



Exports (billion €)

2010 2011 2012



Mineral and aerated waters

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.5

0.5

Coffee

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.3

0.7

0.9

Other food industries

2.4

2.9

2.9

3.1

3.3

1.8

2.0

Total food industry

16.7

18.6

18.6

19.5

20.4

20.9

23.1

–for human consuption

14.6

16.2

16.5

17.0

17.6

20.4

22.5

Total agro-food

34.5

38.8

37.8

39.1

40.3

27.8

30.3

Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Federalimentare (2015a)



Products/Industries



Table 6.1 (continued)



0.6

1.1

2.4

26.2

25.5

33.4



2013

0.7

1.1

2.5

27.1

26.4

34.4



2014

0.3

0.5

−0.6

4.2

5.8

−6.8



0.3

0.6

−0.9

4.6

6.3

−8.6



0.4

0.8

−0.8

6.1

7.6

−6.0



0.5

0.8

−0.8

6.7

8.5

−5.6



Trade balance (billion €)

2010

2011

2012

2013



0.5

0.9

−0.8

6.7

8.9

−5.9



2014



290

M. Fortis and A. Sartori



6 Food & Wine: Quality, Tradition and Innovation



291



Even if Italian exports tend to be less than their European competitors,9 the value

added of the agro-food industry remains significant; i.e. €24 billion against

Germany’s €11 billion thanks to Italian products prices especially in the food

industry (Federalimentare 2015b).



6.4.2



Food Industry: A Focus



The Italian food industry ranks second (after mechanical engineering and metal

products) within the Italian manufacturing industry. It has an annual turnover greater

than €130 billion and the sector is still growing. There are more than 54,000 companies in this sector which employ an excess of 380,000 workers. Food consumption

in Italy is around €210 billion, and production is increasing along with imports, but

mainly exports, which translates into greater trade surpluses (Table 6.2).

A solid long-term growth trend is at the basis of the success of the Italian food

industry. Beginning in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, the

performance of the Italian food industry has remained positive. In fact, exports to

leading foreign markets have consistently increased. According to a

Federalimentare (2015b) analysis, companies evolved considerably in their

propensity to export. In 2004 a mere one fifth of the companies in the food sector

exported abroad, while by 2014 one out of two companies had export-led production. Export generated turnover thus increased significantly. During the same

time frame, foreign trade increased from 14 to 20.5 % and food product exports

increased twice as fast as overall Italian exports. The unit value of food exports

increased by 83.8 % against the already noteworthy 46.1 % increase of overall

Italian exports.

The analysis, if limited to 2010–2014, shows that the food industry increased

imports by 22.2 %, from €16.7 billion in 2010 to €20.4 billion in 2014. Exports

increased at an even more unrelenting pace (+29.6 %) from €20.9 billion in 2010 to

an impressive €27.1 billion in 2014. This means that the total balance of the food

industry went from €4.2 billion to €6.7 billion, which represents a positive upward

shift of almost +60 %.

Furthermore, when considering only what the food industry produced for human

consumption, imports grew by a mere €3 billion (from €14.6 billion to €17.6

billion), while exports in terms of value increased by more than €6 billion (from

€20.4 billion to €26.4 billion). In conclusion, the trade balance of the Italian food

industries for food consumption increased by €3.1 billion (+53.2 %). The trade

surplus in 2010 was €5.8 billion, and proceeded to grow to its historic record of

€8.9 billion in 2014.



9



Agro-food exports represent one third of Germany’s total exports (33 %), one fourth of France’s

exports (26 %), a bit more than one fifth of Spain’s exports (22 %) which is approximately equal

to Italy's share (20 %).



292



M. Fortis and A. Sartori



Table 6.2 Basic figures of the Italian food industry (2013–2015)

Economic profiles (billion € and % change from the

previous year)

Position (and share) in manufacturing industry

according to turnover

Turnover



2013



2014







(12 %)

(13 %)

132

132

(+1.5 %)

(+0.0 %)

Total food consumption

213

214

Number of industrial firms

54,500

54,400

Number of persons employed

385,500

385,000

Production

+0.7 %

+0.6 %

Exports

26.2

27.1

(+5.8 %)

(+3.5 %)

Imports

19.5

20.4

(+4.1 %)

(+4.8 %)

Trade balance

6.7

6.7

(+11.1 %)

(−0.2 %)

Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Federalimentare (2015c)



6.4.3



2015

(forecast)



(13 %)

134

(+1.5 %)

216

54,350

385,000

+1.1 %

28.6

(+5.7 %)

21.3

(+4.4 %)

7.3

(+8.9 %)



The 10 Stars of the “Made in Italy” Food Industry



The food industry, from 2010–2014, had a cumulated surplus of €28.3 billion.

When including food destined for consumption, it increased to €37.1 billion.

Within the food industry, it is easy to identify 10 “stars”; that is to say, it is

possible to pinpoint those sector industries which provide a significant contribution

in terms of both trade balance value and specialization.

The value in terms of trade balance regards 10 food industries, which during the

period considered, obtained a surplus balance. Overall, these industries generated a

cumulated surplus of €61.7 billion. When observing Fig. 6.2, the wine industry

took the biggest share with a quota equal to 38 % (€23.5 billion), followed by the

pasta industry with 16 % (€9.9 billion) and confectionery and bakery with 11 %

(€6.8 billion). These industries together represented approximately two thirds of the

overall surplus of the 10 “stars” of the food industry.10 The remaining third was

split mainly between the vegetable processing industry 8 % (€5 billion), the meat

processing industry 8 % (€4.7 billion), and the coffee industry 6 % (€3.7 billion).

Smaller contributions were also provided by fruit and rice processing industries,

4 % each, as well as mineral and aerated water, liqueurs and spirits, 3 % each.



Note that these are notable figures even when considering the entire food industry. The

cumulated balance of the food industry, as already stated was €28.3 billion.



10



6 Food & Wine: Quality, Tradition and Innovation



293



Liqueurs and spirits

3%

Mineral and aerated

waters

3%

Rice

3%

Wine

38%



Processed fruit

4%

Coffee

6%



Processed meat

8%



Processed vegetables

8%



Confectionery and bakery

11%



Pasta

16%



Fig. 6.2 Industries that contribute to the cumulated trade surplus of the Italian food industry

(2010–2014) Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Federalimentare (2015a)



While it is not formally included among the 10 stars, the dairy industry also has

excellent quality products. The cheese11 sector in particular has accumulated a trade

surplus of almost €1.3 billion in five years. Exports have increased by more than

20 %, from the already noteworthy figure of €1.7 billion in 2010 to €2.2 billion in

2014.

The 10 stars listed above are also the most specialized industries in Italy. When

considering a sector’s normalized surplus as an indicator of specialization and

performance of foreign trade exports, it seems that those food industries which

obtain the best results are naturally the same, even if in a different order from the

above list.

In five years, from 2010–2014, the industries which in effect turned Italy into a

net exporter, in terms of specialization relevance were: pasta, wine, rice, coffee,

processed meats, mineral and aerated water, processed vegetables, liqueurs and

spirits, processed fruit, and confectionery and bakery (Fig. 6.3).



11



Italy is particularly strong in the production and export of hard, grated, powdered and

blue-veined cheeses. In 2014 the trade surplus was almost €1.2 billion and exports were around

€1.3 billion. On the other hand, it is a net importer of soft, fresh, processed and semi-hard cheeses.



294



M. Fortis and A. Sartori



Normalized trade balance

Pasta

100



Confectionery and bakery



80



Wine



60



40



Processed fruit



Rice

20



0



Liqueurs and spirits



Coffee



Processed vegetables



Processed meat



Mineral and aerated waters



Fig. 6.3 The most specialized industries of the Italian food industry (2010–2014). Source

Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Federalimentare (2015a)



The main export thrust came from these industries. In 2014, as already stated, the

total exports of the agro-food industry reached €34.4 billion and the chief contribution came from the food industry (€27.2 billion). The 10 stars’ share of exports

was a total of €18.8 billion; in other words, 70 % of the cumulated exports of the

food industry.

The export strength of these industries was confirmed by a five-year (2010–

2014) analysis. Again, during this period, 70 % of the food industry’s exports were

attributable to the industries listed above, which cumulatively exported a total of

€85 billion (out of a total €122 billion). More specifically, a substantial slice of

Italian food exports,12 60 %, were mostly made up of exports (Fig. 6.4) from three

industries: the wine industry, almost 30 % (€25.1 billion) mainly wines; the



12



With respect to the total exports of the food industry, the export share of the top industries

considered are as follows: wine 21 %, confectionery and bakery 12 %, pasta 8 %, processed

vegetable 8 %, processed meat 5 %, processed fruit 4 %, liquors and spirits 3 %, mineral and

aerated water 2 %, and rice 2 %.



6 Food & Wine: Quality, Tradition and Innovation



Mineral and aerated

waters

3%

Liqueurs and spirits

4%



295



Rice

3%



Wine

29%



Coffee

6%

Processed fruit

6%



Processed meat

8%



Processed vegetables

11%

Confectionery and bakery

18%

Pasta

12%



Fig. 6.4 A selection of industries which contribute the most (70 %) to the Italian food industry’s

exports (2010–2014). Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Federalimentare

(2015a)



confectionery and bakery industry, 18 % (€15.1 billion); and the pasta industry,

12 % (€10.3 billion). Excellent results were also obtained by the vegetable processing industry (11 %), mainly canned tomatoes; the processed meat industry

(8 %), mainly pork meat; the fruit processing industry (6 %); the coffee industry

(6 %); followed by the liqueurs and spirits industry (4 %); the mineral and aerated

water industry (3 %); and finally the rice industry (3 %).

Furthermore, it must be noted that a little less than two thirds of the food

industry’s overall exports were toward European Union countries; however, in

recent years a new trend shows a potent impetus toward extra-European Union

countries, notably the United States. European markets, nonetheless, remain fundamental; its main exports are toward Germany especially, then France, the United

Kingdom and to a lesser degree Switzerland. The 5 countries mentioned above have

revealed to be the main markets, in fact they are absorbing half of Italy’s food

exports. When it comes to extra-EU economies, the United States, Canada along

with China and many other Asian markets are increasingly expanding and thus are a

source of abundant potential.

Last, “Made in Italy” products are appreciated around the world, and it is no

coincidence that Italy places among the top world economies in terms of international trade competitiveness. These facts have been supported and confirmed using



296



M. Fortis and A. Sartori



Fig. 6.5 G-20 countries ranked by competitiveness in foreign trade of processed food: trade

performance index (2014). Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from ITC (2016)



the Trade Performance Index (TPI) developed by UNCTAD/WTO (ITC 2016). In

2014, Italy not only consolidated its top rankings within the world trade competitiveness index, it also improved its ranking of processed foods and moved from 7th

to 6th place (Fortis 2016). Italy ranking 6th for processed foods out of 189 countries

is an extraordinary result. When reducing the spectrum to the G-20 countries, it did

even better and ranked 3rd right after Germany and France (Fig. 6.5).



6.4.4



The Food and Wine Sector: A Long-Run Analysis

and a Look at Trends During the Economic Crisis



Italy’s multiple successes in the food industry are the result of constant long-term

improvements coupled with phenomenal innovative resilience.

The Food and wine sector, intended as food products and beverages (excluding

lightly processed foods like meat and milk),13 have experienced a particularly



13



More specifically: processed and conserved meats (excluding poultry); fresh, pasteurized, sterilized, homogenized liquid milk or long lasting milk which has undergone ultra-high-temperature

processing (UHT).



6 Food & Wine: Quality, Tradition and Innovation

Exports



Imports



297



Trade balance (right axis)



30



8

6.9



6.7



6.1

20



6

5



4.1



4.5



3.4

10



2.5

1.4

0.6



0.9



1.8



2.0



2.0



2.4

1.9



2.7



2.7



1.9



0.8



0



4

3

2

1

0



billion



3.9



billion



7



-1

-2

-10



-3

-4

-5



-20



-6

-7

-30



-8

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014



Fig. 6.6 The Italian “Food and wine” sector’s international trade performance (1995–2014)

Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Istat (2016)



positive trend over the last two decades.14 In fact, the trade surplus has constantly

increased since 1995. As can be seen from Fig. 6.6, in 1995, the trade surplus was

€0.6 billion. It increased each year (with the exception from 2003 to 2005) and in

2013 it peaked at almost €7 billion, which it repeated in 2014. It is clear that both

exports and imports have increased notably. At the beginning of the period being

considered (1995), both were around €10 billion, but by the end of the period

(2014) imports were €20.5 billion while exports were €27.2 billion, thus generating

a trade surplus of €6.7 billion. In other words, in the twenty-year period, there was a

significant increase in trade flows, and an ascending trade surplus within those

flows. The Food and wine sector significantly increased its contribution to the 4Fs.

While it is undoubtedly less than the contribution of the other 3Fs in absolute

quantitative terms, it remains of considerable importance.

It is crucial to emphasize that the Food and wine sector is characterized not only

by continuously increasing specialization, but also by its resilience and vigorous

strength.

When considering its contribution to the trade balance of the 4Fs, from 2008

(just before the beginning of the global economic crisis) to 2014, and dividing it in

During the last decade (as described in Chapter 3), “Made in Italy” exports have changed

significantly. Exports, on the one hand, are increasingly characterized by mechanical engineering

products and means of transport other than cars. Products traditionally associated with the image of

Italian excellence (Fashion, Furniture, Food), on the other hand, continue to register positive

results and remain of fundamental importance.



14



298



220



M. Fortis and A. Sartori

Food and wine



Furniture and ceramic tiles



Fashion and cosmetics



Fabricated metal products, machinery and transport equipment



200



Indexed at 2008 = 100



180



160



140



120



100



80



60

2008



2009



2010



2011



2012



2013



2014



Fig. 6.7 Trade surplus of the Italian “Food and wine” sector and the other 3Fs (2008–2014)

Source Compiled by Fondazione Edison using data from Istat (2016)



two periods, Fig. 6.7 shows the trade balance for each of the 4Fs indexed at 2008

values. When comparing these examples of Italian excellence, from 2008 to 2010,

the other 3Fs resisted moderately well during the most difficult period of the grave

economic and financial crisis. In 2011, all the other Fs had recuperated the ground

lost. This was even more evident by the end of 2014, when Fashion and cosmetics

and Fabricated metal products, machinery and transport equipment not only

returned to pre-2008 levels, but actually made noteworthy improvements, while

Furniture and ceramic tiles realigned to pre-crisis levels. The Food and wine sector

increased considerably during the first period (2008–2010), and grew remarkably in

the following period (2011–2014). In fact, it almost doubled starting from €3.4

billion in 2008 to €4.5 billion in 2011, reaching €6.7 billion in 2014.



6.4.5



Made in Italy Food and Wine: Tradition and Quality



The major successes in the food industry have been by those industries which

produce typical “Made in Italy” products. The winning ingredient in these products

is quality: 80 % of the food industry’s exports are prestigious labels and 8 % are



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