Sep 112011

Is it "Made in Italy"?

A recent article in the business magazine L’Impresa (“Pericolo italian sounding,” N.7-8, 2011) by Gaetano Murano discusses the damage done to the Italian alimentary export balance of trade by Italian sounding products, counterfeit “Italian” food products sold with almost-Italian names like “Rosecco” (UK), “Parmesao” (Brazil), and “Mozzarella Company” (USA). These names, rather than reflecting a general food category, mask a lower-quality food which catches the coattails of an Italian brand’s collective reputation.

The numbers that Murano cites are stunning: in France there are twice as many Italian-sounding products on the market as originals, in Germany and Holland almost triple. Italy, which according to a farmers’ association makes 21% of the EU’s denomination of origin food products, has had a constant agricultural trade deficit for more than a decade, and loses millions of euros a year to Italian sounding products abroad.

A ruling by the European Court of Justice in February 2008 on a case involving a French manufacturer’s use of the name “Parmesan” should have provided a solution to the problem, but the biggest abuses come outside of the EU. While an accord has been signed with China for the recognition of Grana Padano and Prosciutto di Parma, the Asian giant (along with the US) continues to allow Italian sounding knock-offs to be sold.  ZN

Grazie a Mauro Renna per la segnalazione.

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