Food Piracy: The Phenomenon Of The Italian Sounding Food Products

Six millions euros per hour: that’s the amount of the made in Italy turnover loss – as reported by Confagricoltura – caused by the so-called “Italian sounding” whose images, names and colours imitate the Italian products, but actually having nothing to do with the original made in Italy quality, culture and traditions.

Parmesan
Kraft exploits the name Parmesan to market  a product that has nothing to do with Parmigiano ReggianoSource

The phenomenon is well known as much as it is widespread, but it is rather impressive to read its evaluations and extent in black and white. Only EU considered, the match between fake Italian and real Italian sees the latter defeated 2-1: every two Italian products sold, only one is authentic.

“At the end of the year, the loss is over 54 billion euros, an amount greater than the real food piracy worth six billion euros” says Confagricoltura at Cibus Tour, highlighting that the trade of fake and imitations – in other words – all things pretending to be Italian, “are a loose cannon for the Italian alimentary export, this one representing the spearhead of the Italian export with an income of 28 billion euros in 2010.”

“While the food piracy – the real counterfeiting – is an illicit act punishable by law, the huge business of the Italian sounding plays in a grey area that can be fought only through international rules and agreements in order to assure a total transparency about raw materials and manufacturing process employed by traders.” claims the agricultural organization.

A legal action is urgently necessary, especially in those areas of great importance from the commercial point of view like the United States and Canada, where the Italian imitations outstrip the real Made in Italy ten-to-one – in North America there has been a refund of the defraud market quotas worth 24 billion euros, plus 3 billions of real counterfeit. Within the European border, which is supposed to be more protected, the gap is remarkable since, as mentioned above, it reaches 2-1.

The alimentary and agricultural percentage of the total national export amounts to 8% and it should also be considered that in the last few years its importance is strengthening and growing more and more in the total foreign sales volume, as compared with the negative trend of other economic sectors. If the Italian businesses want to remain competitive, they should reattain the grey area occupied by the Italian sounding.

“For this reason – says Confagri –, it is necessary to launch information and promotions campaigns so that foreign consumers can learn how to recognize a fake. Most importantly, at the WTO board the following subjects should be covered: the protection of the indication of geographical origin community system and definition of the standard productive process in social and environmental fields.”