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Italy's agrifood exports hit record high in 2017

Staff Writer |
Italian agrifood industry exports registered a record high in 2017, slightly exceeding 41 billion euros ($48 billion), a report by the National Institute for Services to Agricultural and Food Markets (ISMEA) said.

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"In the last decade, the prolonged economic crisis has fuelled a reconstruction in the fabric of our enterprises favoring those financially more solid, which - according to (National Institute of Statistics) ISTAT - coincide with those exporting," ISMEA stated.

The country's agrifood exports had been worth 37 billion euros in 2015 and 38.4 billion euros in 2016, respectively, according to data by the Agriculture Ministry.

ISMEA also noted the industry boosted its sales on foreign markets by 23 percent in the last five years, exceeding the European Union (EU) average of 16 percent in the same period.

In terms of value, EU agrifood exports almost reached 525 billion euros between 2013 and 2017, and the Italian products accounted for about 8 percent of that, according to the study.

"The primary role of the 'made in Italy' within the European sector clearly emerges from disaggregated data," the report said. "If we take the first five items of Italian agricultural exports, and compare them at EU level, (we see that) Italy is always the first exporter."

For example, the report mentioned, Italy accounted for 35-36 percent of the whole EU apple and grape exports, some 47 percent of EU kiwis exports, and 61 percent of EU shelled hazelnuts exports.

The Italian agriculture's value added was equal to 31.5 billion euros last year (not including fisheries and forestry), some 18 percent of the value added of the EU-28 (still with UK) agriculture, ISMEA further highlighted.

Such value would "put Italy in the first place, ahead of France (28.8 billion euros in value added) and Spain (26.4 billion euros), and leaving Germany behind by over 14 billion," it stated.

According to latest data available by statistical office Eurostat, the gross value added of the EU-28 agriculture amounted to some 165.65 billion euros in 2016.

According to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies, the report would confirm the industry's "huge potential".

"Ours is one of the best functioning agriculture in Europe, but there is still much to do," Gian Marco Centinaio noted, after the study was unveiled in a conference.

"We need to further boost the export, make our agro-tourism companies more competitive, and offer more jobs to young people in a safe and balanced supply chain," he added.

Moreover, ISMEA sounded moderately worried on the evolution of the global market in the short term, and more optimistic in a medium-term perspective.

"The (current) neo-protectionist mood cannot but harm the Italian agrifood, which in latest years has showed an increasing level of openness," the report said. "In a longer term, however, it should be emphasized the evolution of the global demand of food appears to be fitting the features of the 'made in Italy'."

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