In all the latitudes of the world, six out of ten Italian food products reaching our dining tables are forgeries. It is a matter of ‘Italian sounding’, a phenomenon that involves the use of the geographical origin and the brand Italy, without having anything with it. It is estimated that Rome loses about sixty billion euros a year due to these forgeries.
Cheese is the main target
This figure is provided by Coldiretti, the National Confederation of Direct Agricultural Producers with over 1,5 million members in its ranks, in its latest report. ‘A hundred deceptions’ is the result of the agropyateria affecting all types of products, but mostly cheese, especially the worldwide famous Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano and Mozzarella.
The largest number of scams across the pond
A large number of copies of Italian brands was recorded in the US, at the top of this special false product leaderbord. South America is the region where imitations of Made in Italy are more produced and commercialized. A phenomenon that has now spread to Australia, Canada, Thailand, South Korea, Russia, but also to several EU countries, despite the strict rules on the protection of European designations of geographical origin.
A long list of fake products
Among the most prevalent fake products, you can find different versions of the Italian tomato sauce, which for example in Argentina is not called ‘salsa di pomodoro‘, but instead ‘salsa pomarola‘. As mentioned above, mozzarella is another target, just think about the new Siberian Mozzarella produced in Russia. And let’s not forget about wine. According to the research, the most commonly falsified wines are no less than Chianti, Barbera and Prosecco. In Romania, the famous Piedmontese Barbera is a white wine, and not a red one as in its original version.
People do not actually know they have a copy in their hands
It is necessary to recall that Italy is one of the countries with the richest variety of agricultural products, as there are thousands of top quality products from all the twenty regions of the country. For this reason, many exploit the reputation of the Italian brand to make counterfeits. But the point is that consumers, when asked, do not know they are not eating original Italian food.
For Italy, which is losing big money, it is difficult to deal with this problem, since the production and distribution of these false products is not officially illegal. Moreover, making it all the more difficult, it is not always mandatory to provide information labels and specify the production site. Therefore, consumers do not immediately have the opportunity to spot these imitations.
The eternal struggle
So, the question is: how can Italy defend itself from this ‘sea of the fake’? The average buyer looks for cheaper food, and the counterfeits are on average cheaper than the original brands by 30 percent. The Italian governments have already spent a lot of money to inform the public over the years, especially through the mediation of the main operators in the gastronomy sector: restaurant chefs, nutritionists and specialized press. However, it’s still a long way to go.