• The Italian agri-food sector Structure and momentum

    The third-largest agri-food industry in the EU
    With €132bn in sales in 2016, the ltalian agri-food industry is the third-largest in the EU behind Germany and France. lt is a di­versified industry, its main sectors being dairy products, wines, meat and charcuterie, pastry and bake­ry, biscuits and pasta.

    Economic andstrategic studies
    The agri-food industry is a strate-gic sector for the ltalian economy, both by its weight and by the strong momentum it has shown in recent years. Sales rose by 17% between 2007 and 2013, a re­markable performance given the recession suffered by the ltalian economy during this period. While sluggish domestic demand has led to a stagnation in the last four years, exports remain very buoyant.

    ltaly also occupies a prominent place and enjoys an internatio­nal reputation in related industries: agricultural machinery (no.3 worldwide), packaging and equipment for the agri-food industry.

    Sales driven by export markets, inwhich Italy capitalises on its richculinary heritage and expresses itsindustrial know-how
    When including ail raw agricultural products and processed food products, the balance of external trade is in structural de­ficit. However, there was a reduction in the deficit in 2015 and 2016. If one takes only secondary processing products (cheeses, charcuterie, pastry and bakery products) and beverages (no­tably wine), ltaly generates a net surplus, which reached €14bn in 2016 and increases year-on-year.

    This situation reflects an activity focusing strongly on the trans­formation of agricultural products, through which ltalian com­panies capitalise on their rich culinary heritage and express their industrial know-how. For this, businesses rely on a strong agricultural base (ltaly is the fourth agricultural country in the EU), supplemented by imports of products intended for pro­cessing (cereals, oil seeds, livestock and meat, bulk milk, etc.).

    A fragmented industry dominatedbyfamily-run SMEs
    The ltalian agri-food industry has nine national groups whose consolidated sales top one billion euros. Sorne of them have international scope (such as Ferrero, Barilla, Perfetti Van Melle and Campari), others national (such as Veronesi, Amadori and Granarolo ... ).

    The sector is largely fragmented, however, composed of a dense fabric of SMEs, nearly 70% of which are family-owned, and many still run by the first generation of entrepreneurs. The international success of ltalian agri-food products is driven not only by large groups, but also by SMEs, which are extremely enterprising and have a genuine export culture.

    Unigrains' opinion
    ltalian cuisine enjoys an excellent international reputation and ltalian processing know-how exports well. The country relies on a few world-class champions, the dynamism of its businesses and the role played by the ltalian diaspora in disseminating its specialities. Sales growth in foreign markets shows no signs of slowing, driving the economy despite persistently sluggish do­mestic demand.

    But because of its fragmented structure and the prevalence of family SM Es, the ltalian agri-food industry also faces challenges: sector concentration and internai structuring to consolidate growth and internationalisation, intergenerational transmission and capital restructuring.

    lt is worth noting that France and ltaly have particular affini­ties and a special partnership. The two countries share a rich culinary heritage, industrial know-how and a dense fabric of enterprising SMEs. They maintain close commercial ties, reflec­ting the complementarities between the two countries, as well as industrial links.

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