Brexit Leads to Sharp Decline in UK Imports of Italian Foods

Officials in the Italian agriculture sector worry that increased bureaucratic hurdles may also lead to an uptick in food fraud.
Sep. 16, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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Italian olive oil stocks in the United Kingdom are shrink­ing.

In the first five months of 2021, Italian extra vir­gin olive oil imports fell by 13 per­cent. Shipments of other core ingre­di­ents of the Mediterranean diet have fallen too. Imports of pasta dropped by 28 per­cent, and tomato sauce ship­ments fell 16 per­cent.

The United Kingdom could become the Trojan horse for Made-in-Italy fake food, a mar­ket val­ued at €100 bil­lion per year.- Coldiretti, 

Italian cheeses and wines are also decreas­ing their mar­ket shares in the U.K.

The Italian farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, Coldiretti, placed the blame for all of this squarely on Brexit. They warned that lengthy admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures, over­sized bor­der con­trols and exces­sive bureau­cracy are putting ship­ping oper­a­tions worth up to €3.4 bil­lion per year at risk.

See Also: Olive Oil Trade News

Coldiretti data regard­ing Italian olive oil exports to the U.K. match those reported in Spain. In the first months of 2021, Spanish olive oil exports to the U.K. fell by 35 per­cent, with Spanish offi­cials also cit­ing increased bureau­cratic hur­dles as one of the rea­sons for the slow­down.

Should this neg­a­tive trend con­tinue, Italian exporters will be sig­nif­i­cantly impacted since the U.K. is their fourth mar­ket, in terms of vol­ume, behind Germany, France and the United States.

According to a recent study cited by Federvini, the Italian wine pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, 95 per­cent of British con­sumers buy Italian prod­ucts in the super­mar­kets in the post-Brexit era.

A fur­ther 66 per­cent of the British shop­pers like to buy Italian food prod­ucts and con­sider them among the top three in the world, in terms of qual­ity. This goes up to 70 per­cent when shop­pers under 55 years of age are con­sid­ered.

Given the cur­rent hur­dles for Italian imports, Coldiretti noted that the tra­di­tional love for the Italian prod­ucts in the U.K. might boost the pros­per­ous mar­ket of coun­ter­feit goods that are pack­aged to look like Italian-made ones or mar­keted with names that resem­ble those of true Italian food spe­cial­ties.

Coldiretti said that this was a real risk since cases of coun­ter­feit prod­ucts with a Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication, rang­ing from Prosecco wine to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, have pre­vi­ously been iden­ti­fied in the U.K.

The United Kingdom could become the Trojan horse for Made-in-Italy fake food, a mar­ket val­ued at €100 bil­lion per year whose main oper­a­tors are in the United States, which may become a priv­i­leged com­mer­cial part­ner for the U.K.,” Coldiretti added.

The British need to watch out for Italian-branded olive oil and parme­san with an Italian flag on the label, which actu­ally comes from America,” Coldiretti’s Lorenzo Bazzana told The Times of London. Before Brexit, we could ask the U.K. to crack down on fake Italian foods, but now that it is out of the E.U., we can­not. Hence our fear that things could turn for the worse there.”

We have already seen it hap­pen in Russia, where the moment sanc­tions stopped Italian food arriv­ing, Russian parme­san, com­plete with the Italian flag, appeared in stores,” he added.

The reduc­tion of food import vol­umes is sig­nif­i­cant for British con­sumers too. According to the British Retail Consortium, 30 per­cent of all food eaten in the U.K. comes from abroad. The largest por­tion of those imports is fresh veg­eta­bles and fruits, most of which come from Europe.





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