UAE and Italy unite for food sustainability

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UAE and Italy unite for food sustainability
Gianpaolo Bruno, Trade Commissioner to the UAE, Oman and Pakistan at the Italian Trade Agency

The Mediterranean diet also holds immense health benefits for the consumer

by

Farhana Chowdhury

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Published: Sun 17 Sep 2017, 10:15 AM

Last updated: Mon 18 Sep 2017, 5:41 PM

Food security is one of the top national priorities of the UAE, and Italy may have the right tools to assist the country in its march towards sustainability. 
It was earlier revealed by Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, that Italy is currently looking at opportunities to assist the UAE in overcoming difficulties involved in developing food strategies, following a meeting between respective ministers of agriculture and food in the UAE and Italy last year. Among these are the hydroponic system of irrigation. 
To date, agriculture is Italy's second most important sector and contributes to 11.3 per cent of its total GDP. Composed of thousands of small and medium-sized companies highly specialised in single stages of production, Italian companies are a beacon of high standard, as all the value chains are strongly monitored to give consumers the best possible quality that Italian agriculture can offer to the market.

Stats (as of 2017)
Source: Italian Trade Agency
1st - The UAE's rank in terms of Italian food exports in the MENA region
11.3% - Total Italian GDP represented by agribusiness
317 million Euro - Italian Agrifood Exports to the UAE
38 billion Euro - Italian Agrifood Exports to the world
 
According to Gianpaolo Bruno - Trade Commissioner to the UAE, Oman and Pakistan at the Italian Trade Agency, the popularity of Italian cuisine has long been celebrated in the UAE, and this is evident by the presence of hundreds of dedicated restaurants. 
"The market has huge potential for our cuisine as well as gastronomic traditions that could be proposed to the health-concerned consumer. More and more healthy conscious customers are turning to Italian dishes, as the Mediterranean diet is focused on promoting a healthy balance in body and mind," he said. 
In order to assure consumers of the freshest and most genuine quality, the Italian Trade Agency is on a mission to debunk counterfeit products and spread awareness of what Italian food is really all about. 
"Our philosophy goes beyond selling products. We aim to package it with an Italian style philosophy such that consumers are able to enjoy the Italian flair and way of life," he said.
Superior in quality and taste
The Italian agri-food industry is internationally recognised as a beacon of superior standards in terms of quality, safety, security, technological innovation, sustainability, biodiversity, respect for traditional values, as well as its positive social impact.
Italy is a country characterised by a wide diversity in soil and climate conditions that have shaped unique cultures and traditions. These features have brought about the formation of many small and medium-sized companies, often managed by families, that have heavily invested in products' quality and uniqueness.
Among the key aspects of the Italian agribusiness landscape is the attention and care lavished on each stage of production and on each activity involved in bringing to the table a product of exceptional quality. Food processing is, hence, an art that has evolved into a technical specialisation constituting a chain in which each link is both indispensable and must be of the utmost excellence. Companies are more and more investing in this model of production aimed at maximising the products' perceived value and at improving marketing strategies both at the national and international levels.
In the year 2016, the UAE was named the most important country in the MENA region for Italy's agriculture and F&B exports, where total Italian exports to the UAE amounted to 317 million euros (almost Dh1.3 billion), while Italy's imports from the UAE were worth more than two million euros. In the last 10 years, Italian sales to the UAE almost quadrupled, given the strong demand from residents and tourists alike for quality and healthy food and the rapid evolution of lifestyle.
Italian Trade Agency forecasts a continuous growth in the next few years with high market potential as Expo 2020 draws close. This is attributed to the associated strong flows of tourists, as well as the UAE residents' attraction to the quality standards of Italian products and the flair of Italian lifestyle incorporated into them.
EU Certifications

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO; DOP in Italian) 

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI; IGP in Italian)

There are a number of products in the market that pose as Italian brands, but none are as authentic as the European Union labels, which protect some of Italy's most iconic products, such as the Parmesan cheese and the balsamic vinegar from the Emilia Romagna region. Under the European Union law, products are subject to strict production regulations and geographical restrictions in order to receive certification.
These quality logos attest to the specific traditions and quality of food, agricultural products and drinks, produced in the European Union or in other countries. Currently, there are 291 iconic Italian food products certified by PDO and GPI quality seals, including Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania.



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