Export is growing for Italian DOP and IGP products, but international forgery is up as well. Balsamic vinegar from Modena is among the top products representing the Italian gastronomic excellency worldwide. As flattering and affirming as is the always growing appreciation of made in Italy products in the world, the data relating to international forgery are extremely worrisome. In the last 10 years the piracy regarding Italian products grew 950%.
At the Italian Ministry of Agriculture in Rome, at a convention dedicated to the national and international protection of DOP and IGP products, the economic data regarding the forgery of the balsamic vinegar from Modena and Reggio Emilia. were presented
The forgery of products, that is, the production of goods packaged and presented in a way that they can be mistaken for the original product, taking advantage of its positive image and market recognition, is a phenomenon which has hit the made-in-Italy brands extensively, in particular the food sector. In addition to creating immediate damage by stealing market share from the original products, this type of piracy also damages the image of the originals and generates a long term damage. In fact, the consumer who is unaware of having purchased a forged product, may believe that the inferior quality of the counterfeit product is actually that of the original one, and may be brought to believe that the value attributed to a specific product is due to advertising hype rather than real quality.
The most imitated Italian food products are, in order, the following: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, Balsamic Vinegar, Mortadella, better known as Bologna, Gorgonzola and Asiago cheeses. During the meeting in Rome, the Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Consortium for the Protection of the Balsamic Vinegar from Modena), Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia (Consortium for the Protection of the Balsamic Vinegar from Reggio Emilia), and Consorzio Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Consortium Balsamic Vinegar from Modena) declared zero tolerance for forgery at the conference entitled ‘La tutela delle denominazioni DOP and IGP a livello nazionale e internazionale: il caso del balsamico a confronto con altre denominazioni’ (The protection of the DOP and IGP denomination at a national and international level: the case of the balsamic compared to other denomination.)
From 2000 to today, the number of forged DOP and IGP products has increased gradually from 108 in 2000 to 175 in 2008, and up to 206 in 2010. At the same time, the value of the export of DOP and IGP products doubled, from €704 million in 2000, to €1,390 million in 2008. Currently, 23% of European Union’s DOP and IGP products come from Italy, and involve over 80,000 enterprises, 75,000 of which are agricultural estates and close to 6,000 are processing factories. The total value of DOP and IGP products made in Italy is €5.4 billion, of which €1.4 billion is generated by export.
The forgery of products made in Italy increased 950% in the last 10 years, and the quantity of seized forged products in the same period increased 608%. According to the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau, a special department of the International Chamber of Commerce – Commercial Crime Services (CCS) in London, England, forged products represent less than 10% of the world commerce, for a value of over $600 billion. On its part, the European Commission confirms that the problem of product piracy is increasing and dangerous for the economy.
Variations in consumption of specific products nationally though, cannot be attributed exclusively to the thriving of the parallel market of forged goods. Among the factors affecting the rise and fall in the use of certain products are the progressive aging of the population and the food preferences of the immigrants. In fact, due to longer life expectancy and the progressive decrease in birth rate, the Italian senior population is expected to grow from 19.5% in 2009, to 34% in 2050, while the non-native population, which accounts today for 7.1% of the total, in 2050 is expected to be around 17.2%. Another factor which contributes to the changing trend is the shifting in the typical family structure. In 1978, the couples with children at home accounted for the 60% of the total, while today the number is under 40%. In the same period, the number of singles living alone increased from 8.5% to 26.4% of the general population.