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Quality food sector thrives despite counterfeiting

by Emanuele Scarci

Once again, in 2013, Italy had the largest number of Protected Destination of Origin (Dop), its Protected Geographical Indication (Igp) and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (Sgt) products in Europe - seals of quality for farming and food production.

The number of certified products rose to 261 (13 more than in 2012) while companies grew to over 80,000. And Italian products with registered European Community seals posted more than €13 billion of sales in Italy and abroad.

Sectors with the highest numbers of designations were fruits, vegetables and grains (101 products); cheese (47); extra virgin olive oil (43); cured meats (37); fresh meats (5); other specialities (28).

Emilia-Romagna and Veneto had the highest number of regional Dop and Igp designations with, respectively, 39 and 36 products.

Certified operators rose by 204, or 0.4%, in 2013 to 80,435. Of these, 91.2% were exclusively producers and 6.6% were processors; the remaining 2.2% did both. The number of certified operators grew by a net 200 entities. The bulk of producers worked with cheeses (27,000-plus), extra virgin oil oil (19,000) and fruits and vegetables and grains (19,000).

Three products alone - Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and prosciutto di Parma - made up a hefty one-half of total revenue, according to industry group Coldiretti.

The data is extremely positive overall, but the Italian food industry must factor in counterfeiting. Not just blatant fakes, but products with Italian-sounding names (that aren't Italian but people think they are). Sales for these sort of fakes were over €60 billion - almost double the value of Italy's food exports.

Without fake Made in Italy goods, Coldiretti estimates that exports could triple.