Italian food exports play an important role in the manufacturing industry and are the third most valuable sector to the Italian economy. Italy is a Mediterranean country with a warm, consistent climate and rich fertile soils. It has an abundance of high-quality fruit and vegetables ready to export in bulk overseas.
According to Ivano Vacondio, President of Italian F&B industries association Federalimentare, the growth of the Italian food and beverage sector is mainly due to Italian food exports. Let’s look at the top 8 Italian food and beverages exported worldwide due to popular demand.
1: Italian olive oil
As the second-largest olive oil exporter in the world, Italy exported 338 thousand tonnes of olive oil in 2019, valued at 1.4 million euros. From high-quality extra virgin olive oil to virgin olive oil ideal for cooking, Italians simply can’t cook without this liquid gold. While the Mediterranean region has historically been a major producer and exporter of olive oils, it was not until 2000 that there became an increase in production to meet growing demand.
Coffee is an integral part of Italian culture. Rich and aromatic, coffee exported from Italy is considered the best in the world. 221 thousand tonnes of roasted Italian coffee are exported each year, making up 22% of the European market. Italy tends to produce dark roasts, which allow low grades of green coffee in blends. This means Italian wholesalers can offer Italian roasted beans at a more competitive price overseas.
Pistachios are a traditional Italian crop, especially in the Sicily region, accounting for approximately 90 percent of the total supply. Since 2004, the European Commission awarded pistachios from Bronte as a PDO, distinguishing it from all other pistachio varieties worldwide. Pistachios exported from Italy constitute the largest Italian product in terms of value. Pistachios are harvested from the Apennine mountain regions of Italy, such as Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.
Italy can grow a variety of grapes, which can be turned into Italian wine and shipped around the world. Italian beverage exports are extremely valued in the country and are one of the major wine exports in the European Union. Italy exports the majority of its wine production to the United States. In 2019, the value of wine exported from Italy to the U.S. was around 1.6 million euros. But, as the United Kingdom develops a taste for Italian sparkling wine, demand continues to grow, despite the impact of COVID-19 on Italian wine producers.
The first quarter of 2021 has proved to be a success for Italian dairy products, much of it cheese. In contrast with last year, where there was an overall decline in exports from Italy, Italian cheese exports are steadily rising. With a revenue of over six billion euros, the Italian cheese industry is one of the biggest in the European Union. Being the birthplace of Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano, the county has the authority to export high-quality dairy products.
From linguine and ravioli to spaghetti and penne, Italy exports 2.5 billion euros of pasta worldwide. This is equal to almost 30% of the global pasta exports. Germany, France, United States, and the United Kingdom are the main destinations Italian pasta is shipped to. Historically pasta has been a popular dish, and the international demand for pasta is still rising. Pasta is most consumed in Italy, Tunisia, Venezuela, Greece, and Chile.
7: Processed vegetables
Italy is a thriving example of organic farming in Europe, but the country still has many obstacles to overcome. Agriculture here provides high-quality products and can be done on smaller plots than conventional methods. However, Italian farmers face higher costs for certification and lack access to some markets due to EU regulations about what products are allowed there. Processed vegetables also include high-quality condiments, mixed seasoning, and mustard, with around 82 thousand tons shipped from Italy.
8: Fish & Meat
Exports of Italian meat and fish products have been on the rise in recent years. Fish products such as cuttlefish, squid, octopus, and tuna are shipped around the world to restaurants, supermarkets, and retailers directly from Italy. When it comes to meat, such as Italian ham, Prosciutto has been produced since the 16th century and is prized for its rich flavor and versatility. Exports continue to represent an increasingly important business opportunity for Italian companies specializing in prosciutto.