The popularity of authentic Italian food and beverages keeps growing in the United States, the largest destination market for Italy outside of Europe, but more remains to be done to spread the knowledge of regional food and wine in less mature American regions. Italian food and beverage exports to the United States increased 7.9% to 5.18 billion dollars in 2018 from the year before, beating the already positive performance recorded in the previous two years, according to data of the US Dept of Commerce elaborated by ICE (Italian Trade Agency) New York.
“It was one of the biggest increases in the past years, where all categories performed well with the exception of olive oil because of lower production,” Italian Trade Agency (ICE) NY Director Maurizio Forte told Italianfood.net. “Wine, cheese, pasta, bakery, preserved vegetables, mineral water, vinegar performed very well, in some cases with double digit growth,” he explained.
THE FAVORITE ITALIAN FOOD IN THE US
Exports of olive oil decreased 4.5% from 2017 because of shortage of raw material. Italy is the second-largest European F&B exporter to the United States behind France, and the No. 6 in the world behind Mexico, Canada, China, France and Chile. But it is a steady N. 1 supplier to the US when it comes to olive oil, pasta, cheese and water, according to data released by ICE NY. Italy’s fastest-growing categories include gelato, whose exports rose 50.8% (market share 10%), water (up 22.6%; 34.4% market share), spirits (up 21.5%; 3%), and processed meats (up 20.9%; 6%).
WINE PRICES ARE RISING, BUT CAN GO HIGHER
Wine accounts for the largest share (39%) of the entire pie of food and beverages imported from Italy, but its performance shows room for improvement. Exports of Italian wine to the US increased last year in value terms, rising 6.8% to 1.98 billion dollars, led by sparkling wines. The performance compares with a 3.4% growth in 2017 and is the best in the past five years. However, France remained the world’s top wine exporter to the US last year, in value terms. When it comes to volumes, Italy is the undisputed no. 1 wine supplier to the US, with exports rising 1.2% last year despite a slowdown in US imports globally (volumes down 4.6%).
ITALY AND THE US WINE MARKET
Italy’s share of the US wine market rose from 31.4% to 32%, and average prices increased by 5.4%, moving from 4.5 dollars per liter to 5.9 usd/lt. A price close to 6 dollars per liter is a record for Italy in the US, but France’s leadership in value (but not in volumes) shows that prices of Italian wine are not yet reflecting the strong demand. The Italian government has created a specific plan to boost the quality presence of Italian wine in the US. Under the slogan “Italian Wine – Taste the Passion”, the campaign aimed to improve the positioning and reputation of Italian wines in the market, increasing average retail prices. The campaign – which targeted the regions of New York Tri-State, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas which together consume 52% of Italian wine – produced 900 million impressions, mostly on digital channels.