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Italy confirms European leadership in organic food, business leaps to over €3.8 bn

by Natascia Ronchetti

The flow of ’Made in Italy’ labeled organic food exports is turning into a flood. With more than €1.4 billion in turnover, organic businesses have seen exports grow by over 330% over the course of six years starting in 2008.

A dizzying pace that, as confirmed by the Italian leadership in Europe with 10.8% of agricultural land devoted to organic farming, has steadily increased from 2011, when the hectares stood at 1.1 million: now that figure has risen to nearly 1.4 million.

The sector is worth more than €3.8 billion, with 55,000 workers, between farms and processing industries.

And the tumultuous development abroad, without setbacks, is accompanied by a growth on the Italian market, albeit with lower numbers: an increase of over 90%, compared to 2008, with no slowdown; large retail chains lead the way, with €855 million, followed by specialty stores (€761 mn) and traditional stores (€191 mn).

The figures were presented at the opening of the Sana trade fair dedicated to the organic and natural agribusiness world (in the BolognaFiere pavilions, from September 12 to 15).

These figures come from the think thank Nomisma’s report “Osservatorio sull’agroalimentare,” and confirms that the cross-border appeal of Italian enterprises shows no sign of tapering off.

“Organic Made in Italy has excellent performance,” explains Silvia Zucconi, coordinator of Nomisma’s agribusiness section, “especially because it can offer quality, innovation, and additional guarantees: most notably traceability.”

The international buyers at the trade fair, coming from 21 countries, have nearly doubled and there will be more than 4,000 business-to-business meetings with exhibitors.

The strength of organic agribusiness is also demonstrated by Nomisma’s survey that put 150 enterprises, which make a turnover of nearly €1 billion (approximately 50% of total revenues) under the magnifying glass. Their propensity to export is decidedly higher than agribusiness as a whole.

They export 24%, compared to a total average of 18%. That is to say that a good 80% of organic enterprises are present on international markets.

With the 2015 edition, the trade fair brings to Bologna the international discussion on nutrition, food, and sustainability directly from the organic and natural pavilion of the Expo Milano 2015 biodiversity park, carried out by the Emilia-based trade fair group.

The foreign delegations come from Western and Easter Europe, as well as from Australia, China, Japan, and the United States, confirming the international prestige. In part thanks to the projects done in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, with the Ice - Italian Trade Agency, the Emilia-Romagna region, Unioncamere and FederBio: among such projects, the plan to promote organic agri-food sector and natural cosmetics in South Korea.

According to BolognaFiere president Duccio Campagnoli, the partnership with Expo allowed for, “the underlining of the strategic role that this sector plays in Italy and abroad, in addition to bringing sustainable agriculture and organic and natural production to the center of the international debate.”