With a renewed focus on specialty stores, more incoming of buyers, a new program for wine and the first partnership with the world’s largest retailer Walmart, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA-ICE) is preparing for another extraordinary year for the promotion of authentic Italian food in the US market. The agency is continuing to implement the initiatives launched by the Italian government and the Ministry of Economic Development for 2015-2017 with the goal of making authentic food imported from Italy an even more stable presence on the shelves of the country’s most important retailers and in the kitchens of American consumers. The promotion of ‘Made in Italy’ products addresses the ‘Italian sounding’ phenomenon by informing and educating the American consumer about the quality and characteristics that make the Italian product different from fakes, said Maurizio Forte, the US commissioner for ITA, based in New York.
New US imports for 44.2 million dollars
This year, the agency will launch a new partnership with Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, that will bring Italian products in more than 3,600 stores across the US. In-store promotions, cooking demos and digital marketing have taken place from the East Coast to Texas through Illinois. Promotions have generated a total of 44.2 million dollars of new purchases(US imports). In 2016 alone total annual purchases by the six retailers totaled 264.7 million dollars, with an average percentage increase of 22% over the two-year period, said Matteo Picariello, director of the ITA office in Chicago, which has promoted the partnerships with the supermarket groups.
More than 1,500 Italian companies involved
The participating grocery chains have organized at least two weeks of promotion per year, while missions of food and beverage buyers have been organized by ITA to the main Italian food shows – Cibus, TuttoFood, Marca, Sana. US buyers have been invited to meet producers at the Italian pavilions at top US food shows (FMI, PLMA, Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows) as well as at global events such as Anuga Koelnmesse in 2015 and Sial Paris in 2016. Under the “Extraordinary Italian Taste” program (March 2015-March 2017), there have been 140 days of promotions at more than 1,300 stores owned by the six retailers (for a total of 182,000 days). The results achieved in the two-year campaign include: 1,180 Italian companies involved that were already present in the US market, and 342 newcomers, for a total of 1,522 participating companies. More than 1,000 new products have been displayed on the shelves.
Record presence at the Summer Fancy Food Show
The presence of around 300 Italian companies at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York last June is a confirmation of the interest in the US market. The Italian pavilion, traditionally the largest international presence at the show, has also seen the presence of the regions of Calabria, Puglia, Tuscany and Lombardy and several Consortiums. The pavilion showcased a new design that debuted this year together with the renowned logo “Extraordinary Italian Taste”. Meeting spaces, a coffee area, a wine bar and a new show-cooking area dedicated to PDO and PGI products completed the Lounge Italia, which has seen the participation of Federalimentare, Cibus, Tuttofood and Vinitaly. An indicator of the success of our promotional activity is the increased presence of authentic Italian products on the shelves of retailers, Forte said. The promotions have multiplied purchases by US retail groups by around nine times compared to the investment of public Italian resources. The growing sales of Italian products in the US retail market will also have an impact in the future.
Targeting specialty food stores
In addition to the efforts to consolidate the Italian products already in the market, we will open new collaboration opportunities with American specialty food stores which represent the ideal window for niche products of our small and mid-sized companies, Forte said. The agency will also continue to bring even more US buyers and journalists to the main trade shows in Italy.
Wine Project USA
Also in 2017, the agency is launching the Wine Project in the USA approved by the Ministry of Economic Development with an investment of 20 million euros in three years. Italy is the top exporter of wine to the US and controls a third of the market. The intention is to increase the perception of Italian wine especially in the Midwest of the United States, increasing the average retail price, and educating American consumers about Italian wine and territory.