Italy is by far the leader in Europe for EU quality foods protection labels, according to the latest figures from Confartigianato, the association of Italian artisans and small business owners.
As of March 2016 Italy had 283 food products that have won one of the three prestigious food laurels: Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG). Most of these top quality foods are fruit, vegetable or cereals, followed by cheeses, extra-virgin olive oils and meat specialities.
Origin of products deemed “very important”
Italy has stretched its lead in the EU-26 over France (with 228 top quality food products), Spain (190), Portugal (134) and Greece (103) and represents over a fifth (21.5%) of all EU-protected foods. An analysis conducted by Eurobarometer, the country or region of origin of a food product is deemed very important by 71% of the European population, or 290 million people.
Of the Italian regions, Emilia-Romagna holds the top spot with 42 quality food products followed by Veneto (36), Lumbardy (33), Tuscany (31), Sicily (29), Lazio (26), Campania (22) and Piedmont (21). The provinces with the highest number of EU-protected foods are Bologna (22) and Brescia (18).
Quality foods: Italian specialities from piadina to basil
Among the most recent additions to Italy’s list of protected food products are Tuscan bread, Piedmont salami, Romagna’s piadina flat-bread, the Piacentinu Ennese sheep cheese, the Val di Susa chestnut and the Ricciarelli almond cookie, but Italy’s PDO and PGI products span from the Roman artichoke to Modena’s balsamic vinegar to Sicily’s red orange, Genoa’s basil, Ferrara’s typical pumpkin ravioli, Etna’s cherries, Sorrento’s lemon, Aquila’s saffron, Trapani’s sea salt, a large variety of cheeses, prosciutto, wines and many more products. Mozzarella and pizza napoletana are the two Traditional Specialities Guaranteed in the list.
Rising interest from new markets
Istat’s figures are in line with Confartigianato’s findings: they account for 269 food products in Italy that have won one of the three food laurels PDO, PGI or TSG at the end of 2014. From 2004 through 2014, Italy’s PDO, PGI and TSG products have grown to 269 from 146; farmers have grown by 37.6% and livestock producers by 45%. Italy’s quality foods generate a turnover of more than 6 billion euros a year, thanks also to rising interest from new consumers in China, India, Vietnam and Thailand.