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Food trends

ORGANIC ITALIAN WINE: A SUCCESS STORY

19/09/2017
grapes-1599052_1920

 

Organic Italian wine is going from strength to strength. In 2016, sales reached a total value of €275 million, up 34% compared to 2015. The domestic market was worth 30% of the total (€83 million, up 22% compared to 2015). However, most sales are made on international markets: €192 million, up a staggering 40% compared to 2015 (as opposed to the more subdued 4% increase in total wine exports). These are the statistics published in Nomisma’s Wine Monitor research, commissioned by the Italian Trade Agency’s ICE national institute for foreign commerce.

As far as exports are concerned, organic Italian wine accounts for 3.4% of total Italian wine exports, but this figure is part of a steady upward trend (up 1.9% in 2014 and up 2.6% in 2015), thanks also to the importance that organic companies attribute to exports. The survey demonstrated that organic wine exports are worth 70% of total turnover among the Italian companies interviewed (compared to the 52% importance of exports in the Italian wine industry as a whole). In 2016, 79% of the companies producing organic wines exported the quality and excellence of Italian wine beyond national borders. The main market for this trade is the European Union, which is the number one destination (worth 66% in terms of sales). Just as in the agri-food industry, Germany is the main market for organic Italian wine (accounting for 33% of the foreign turnover achieved in 2016), followed by the United States (12%). According to Nomisma’s Wine Monitor, the US market will drive Italian sales abroad in the next three years; there are also excellent prospects in the European market, which will continue to be a focus.

When the behaviour of foreign consumers was analysed, organic wine’s success beyond national borders was confirmed, as shown by the results of the survey, which analysed the behaviour and purchasing habits of two important markets: Germany and the UK. These markets are extremely promising for Italy, first and foremost because they are among the largest importers of Italian wine (22% of the wine imported into the UK is of Italian origin, while in Germany it accounts for 36%).
The interest in organic wine is demonstrated by consumer preferences. In Germany, 12% of consumers have tried organic wine at least once in the past 12 months, while in the UK the figure is 9%. As in Italy, both markets prefer still red and white wines, followed by sparkling red in the UK and sparkling white in Germany. According to consumers (42% in the UK and 40% in Germany), organic wine produced in Italy is generally of a higher quality than organic wine produced in other countries. Quality is a recurrent theme among the attributes that this wine evokes. Both in Germany and the UK, 19% of consumers indicate ‘high quality’ when they think of Italian organic wine, while 15% see ‘authenticity’ as its main value. Italian organic wine undoubtedly enjoys an excellent reputation beyond national borders, but there is still untapped potential: 84% of wine consumers – both in the UK and in Germany – are interested in buying organic wine that has been produced in Italy.

 

What is organic wine?

Organic grapes are grown in vineyards without the aid of synthetic chemical substances (fertilisers, weed killers, fungicides, insecticides and pesticides).
Wine-making takes place in cellars using only oenological processes and products authorised by EU regulation No. 203/2012.
In short, organic wines are the result of an agricultural and production philosophy that prioritises our relationship with the land and nature and, in general, the wholesomeness of the food we eat.

Gourmet food

ITALIAN GELATO VS ICE CREAM: THE FOUR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEM

20/07/2017
gelati-in-cono

 

Apart from the fact that gelato comes from Italy, people usually consider gelato and ice cream synonymous terms, but that is absolutely not the case. There are four main differences – let’s have a look at them.

1 – Italian gelato has much less fat. American ice creams have to contain at least 10% fat by law, while gelato usually contains an average of 3.8%. That’s because, unlike ice cream, gelato is made with fresh milk and not powdered milk or cream.

2 – Italian gelato is blended slowly, so it contains less air than industrially produced ice cream (10% air in gelato, 50% in ice cream). A balanced quantity of air is an essential step when making good gelato: it affects the consistency, smooth texture and appearance.

3 – Italian gelato is kept at a temperature of around -12°C, while industrially produced ice cream is usually kept at an average of -20°C. This makes an unmistakable difference to the product’s taste.

4 – Italian handmade ice cream is usually made in small batches that are consumed shortly afterwards. That’s why it doesn’t need the preservatives or additives that industrially produced ice cream needs to be stored for long periods of time.

A year-round market
If we analyse global consumer trends in frozen desserts (ice cream, Italian gelato and sorbet), one fact stands out: they are all products that are not influenced by the season or climate. If we look at per capita consumption per country, Business Insider’s league table surprisingly awards New Zealand the top spot, with an average of 28.4 litres per person per year, followed by the USA with 20.8, Australia with 18, Finland with 14.2, Sweden with 12, Canada with 10.6, Denmark with 9.9, Ireland with 9.4, Italy with 8 and the UK with 7. What’s even more surprising is the figure that reveals that, of all the states in the USA, Alaska – where the average temperature never rises above 19°C – consumes the most ice cream. In contrast, Texas, where the climate is decidedly warmer, only comes tenth.

The Italian gelato boom in the USA
Italian handmade gelato is increasingly popular in the USA. Thanks to the range of flavours, its nutritional balance and its ‘exotic charm’, it’s the perfect combination and a luxury that many Americans are increasingly indulging in, even if just to take in the typical atmosphere of an Italian ice cream parlour. If we look at the figures, consumption of Italian gelato in the USA has been constantly increasing since 2009, with annual sales estimated to be worth approximately $210 million. However, we should stress that although gelato accounts for a smaller share of the frozen dessert market, it is also the sector with the fastest growth (up 32% in 2016).

Diet and nutrition

BIODIVERSITY, AN ITALIAN TREASURE

10/07/2017
biodiversita

 

Why does the best basil in the world grow in Prà, in the western part of Genoa? Soil and sunshine certainly have something to do with it, but it’s also a question of wind: the northern Mediterranean breeze that meets that of the Maritime Alps there. The best basil in the world is the result of a series of extraordinary circumstances that combine in an area measuring 18.5 square kilometres, nestled between the districts of Pegli and Voltri. If you take a step back and look at the whole of Italy, you’ll see that Prà is just one of myriad cases like it. That’s because Italy benefits from unique geographic conditions: it’s a peninsula surrounded by a calm sea whose winds meet the mountains that run along the length of the country. That’s why it’s fair to say that biodiversity – i.e. the variety of animal and vegetable species that live within a particular ecosystem – is one of Italy’s true treasures. As many as 58,000 animal species and 7,000 varieties of edible fruits and vegetables have been registered, including 1,200 native grape varieties and 538 olive cultivars: incredible figures if we consider that the country only covers 0.20% of the Earth’s surface.

The threats that menace Italian biodiversity

During the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May 2017, the United Nations raised concerns regarding the danger of extinction faced by many species of flora and fauna. Italy, the champion of biodiversity, also has to tackle a number of problems, starting with the reduction in the range of crops grown at an international level. However, it is also true to say that, in recent years, Italian agriculture has become the most environmentally friendly in Europe, with the highest number of PDO/PGI certifications awarded to food products, and it boasts the highest number of organic farms.

Agriculture: the future belongs to the young

According to a memorandum drafted by Coldiretti, the Italian farmers’ federation, Italy is the only country in the world that can boast 4,965 registered traditional food products, 291 PDO/PGI specialities recognised at EU level, 415 DOC/DOCG wines and 60,000 organic farms. It is no coincidence that agriculture was the industry that saw the highest increase in employment in 2016 (up 4.9% year on year). According to Coldiretti, employment grew thanks to a phenomenon whereby many young people are returning to the land. Almost one in ten companies run by under-35s works in agriculture (8.4%), which amounts to a total of 51,123 farms, up 6% in 2016. Their work ranges from food processing to wholesale, from teaching farms to farm kindergartens, as well as recreational activities, social agriculture for fostering the integration of people with disabilities, park, garden and road maintenance, nature wellness, landscape gardening and the production of renewable energy. The result is that, compared to the industry average, farms run by under-35s are bigger (with a 54% larger surface area), provide more work (50% more) and have a higher turnover (75% more).

Diet and nutrition, Food trends

HEALTH TRIUMPHS AT MEALTIMES

21/06/2017
health

 

According to the Health/Wellness: food as medicine global survey compiled by Nielsen after studying a sample of 30,000 people from 63 countries, consumers from all over the world are increasingly concerned about how and what they eat and increasingly interested in discovering new healthy foods. Food is seen as a treatment/medicine, and diet is no longer just a nutritional regimen: it is, instead, nothing short of a way of life.

Why are consumers increasingly seeking out healthy foods?

Nielsen’s survey identified four reasons behind this phenomenon:

– The ageing of the world population;
– Growing rates of food allergies/intolerance and chronic illnesses;
– An increase in self-treatment and prevention;
– Consumers who are increasingly informed and online.

What sources do consumers consult when deciding whether a food is healthy or not?
(Nielsen)

Nutrition labels 34%
Packaging health claims (‘high fibre’, ‘low fat’) 28%
Medical/health-based websites 21%
Relatives/friends 21%
Medical professionals (doctors, dieticians) 20%
Magazines, newspapers or books 20%
TV programmes, films or documentaries 14%
Signs/labels on shop shelves/products 14%
Consumer blogs 10%


Healthy food in Italy

Italy was ranked the healthiest country in the world in the 2017 Bloomberg Health Index, which analyses the health of 163 countries. Italians are paying more attention to food than ever before, they are increasingly health-conscious and careful about what they eat. According to a report by Coldiretti (the federation of Italian farmers), the consumption of wholemeal foods is growing (up 11%), as is the consumption of gluten-free foods (up 26%), organic foods (up 20%) and vegetable drinks (up 7%). What’s more, Coldiretti has identified a trend linked to so-called ‘superfoods’: foods that combine taste with health benefits. The most popular superfoods include goji berries, adzuki beans, ginger (which has seen an increase in trade of 141% in a single year) and turmeric (with a 93% growth in trade). As well as exotic options (turmeric, adzuki beans and ginger are mostly produced in India and China), Italy also boasts a wealth of products that naturally aid well-being and the environment. Coldiretti has dubbed these products ‘Grandma’s superfoods’.
These extraordinary foods include Polignano purple carrots, considered nothing less than an elixir of long life, thanks also to the high quantities of polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins they contain. Then there’s The barattiere, an old variety of cucumber from the Puglia region; it’s the perfect food for people on a diet, as it provides high levels of potassium whilst containing low levels of sugar and sodium. In the Calabria region, they grow Diamante chili peppers, known as an aphrodisiac. The red onions of Cavasso Nuovo, in the Veneto region, have strong anti-stress benefits and are helpful in the fight against high blood pressure and cholesterol. Last but not least, there’s Piedmont’s white carrot, which is good for the liver because it regulates bile production.

 

 

Food trends, Gourmet food

THE GOURMET STREET FOOD PHENOMENON

08/06/2017
street-food-2

It’s winning over everyone: Michelin-starred chefs, food and wine critics, food bloggers, entrepreneurs and, of course, consumers. We’re talking about gourmet street food: the modern-day reinterpretation of street food that uses top-quality ingredients. It’s still a niche market but it is rapidly growing, particularly in big cities where the number of food trucks offering sophisticated delicacies from all over the world is increasing.

Today, meal times have changed due to busy lifestyles and the lack of spare time. So-called “metro eaters” eat on their way from one appointment to another and they have two priorities: quality and speed. According to food anthropologist Lucia Galasso – who contributed to research commissioned by Sanpellegrino, a leader in the beverage industry –gourmet street food is a vehicle we use to communicate our food values to others. It’s no coincidence that every food preference is catered for in large cities. What we are dealing with is a reaction to standardised food that could end up making us lose the sense of those unmistakable details that reveal the identity of a particular cuisine. As far as this aspect is concerned, street food is a tool that allows us to explore a territory and rediscover recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next at an affordable price. And let’s not forget storytelling. Often street cooks are the repositories of an oral tradition of traditional cuisine: a pleasure that involves all the senses and wins us over through the stories they tell and their gestures.

A number of international cases demonstrate the rise of gourmet street food. The chefs at New York’s Rouge Tomate, a well-known restaurant on the Upper East Side boasting a Michelin star, have created the “Rouge Tomate Cart in the Park”, which offers a street menu at the entrance to Central Park Zoo. Italy, with its rich food tradition, is just as far ahead: Michelin-starred chefs Cristina Bowerman and Mauro Uliassi offer their specialities in the open air from an Ape Romeo three-wheel van and the “Uliassi street good gang”. The Michelin guide has also joined the fray, and in 2016 it ennobled this phenomenon by awarding a star to two landmarks of Singapore’s street food: the Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle food stall and the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodles food stall.

Gourmet food

Italian Carnival rhymes with Venice

02/03/2017
italian carnival

 

Carnival has just ended, but the party atmosphere still lingers on. All of Italy celebrates Carnival, but the most popular and famous carnival is the Carnival of Venice. It’s one of the of the oldest in the world and it’s surreal because it’s set in a city that is so mouthwatering, so picturesque that no matter where you look, it looks like a postcard. Continue Reading…

Gourmet food

Italian Food: Japan’s culinary passion

16/02/2017
italian food in japan

Japan is famous for its variety of culinary delights such as sushi, sashimi, ramen or Gyoza as well as Sake and Shocho. Although traditional Japanese culinary culture remains a strong part of the national identity, Japanese consumers enjoy a more diverse and international range of food products. Continue Reading…

Gourmet food

The best Italian foods to eat on a cold winter’s day

31/01/2017
winter Italian food

Italian food is an amazing world made up of an abundance delicious food recipes and flavors for every season.  Winter is certainly no exception. There are a variety of stick-to-your-ribs dishes that are just right for those icy cold days. Warm pastas, soups and polenta…What could be more satisfying when the tips of your nose, ears and fingers are all freezing cold? Continue Reading…