Examining economic and financial indicators, the market research firm Ismea has analyzed the vulnerability to crises of one of Italy’s most relevant economic sectors: food industry. A sector that proves to be very dynamic, robust and resilient in the face of difficulties, including the current pandemic-fueled crisis. In fact, 42% of Italian agri-food companies have characteristics such as to guarantee a good resilience even during shock crisis situations.
This “hard core” is flanked by a large production area (36% of the sample) – that can be defined as “middle ground” – with some debt exposure problems that could degenerate due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic emergency. Even more worrying is the situation of the remaining 21% of the sample, the “soft underbelly” of the Italian food industry system, characterized by a high level of vulnerability.
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ITALIAN FOOD INDUSTRY RESILIENCE: SECTORS
The sectors with a greater share of “high resistance” companies are the Italian milling industries (63% of companies fall into this category), the liquor industry (59%), and the chocolate, coffee and tea ones (both around 53%). On the contrary, the worst picture is in the beer and olive oil sectors where, respectively, 38% and 34% of companies are in the most critical area.
Italian agri-food exports by products
|Product||Sales (mio €)||% Var. 2019 on 2018|
|Cereals, rice and derivatives||6,573||+6.9%|
|Wine and musts||6,434||+3.2%|
|Fresh fruit and vegetables||4,643||-2.3%|
|Processed fruit and vegetables||3,809||+2.3%|
|Oils and fats||1,881||-5.4%|
|Other food products||8,032||+8.6%|
|Total Food Products||44,647||+6%|
The companies’ size is also an essential indicator to predict their resistance to crisis. More than a quarter of companies employing no more than 9 people presents elements of vulnerability (27%). A percentage that is significantly reduced considering larger enterprises: it drops to 9% in those with more than 250 employees.
Another comforting sign comes from the estimate of the differences in the degree of resistance to crises at a territorial level. In the South of Italy, the area with the most resistant companies is larger (45%), albeit slightly, compared to the Centre-North (42%).
Exports of the main Italian F&B products (% Var. 2019 on 2014)
|Product||Volume %||Value %|
|Fresh fruit and vegetables||-0.2%||+21.5%|
|Processed fruit and vegetables (except tomato)||+48.2%||+50.1%|
|Virgin and extra virgin olive oil||-12.3%||+9%|
|Other vegetable oils||+32.6%||+16.6%|
|Wines (up to 15 % vol., less than 2 liters)||-0.8%||+14.6%|
|Sparkling white wines||+72.8%||+88%|
|Sparkling red wines||+7.8%||+20.9%|
|Boneless hams, speck, culatellos||+12.1%||+14.5%|
|Cured meats and salami||+25.4%||+28.8%|
|Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses||+20%||+40.3%|
|Pecorino and Fiore Sardo cheeses||+25.7%||+13.5%|
|Fresh cheeses and dairy products||+42%||+46.8%|
|Grated or powdered cheese||+87.9%||+99.6%|
|Bread and bread substitutes||+45.1%||+54.7%|
|Spirits and liquors||+76%||+102.4%|
|Coffee and derivatives||+62.2%||+125.4%|
Data on the average age of the companies in the sample shows to what extent the Italian agri-food system is rooted in tradition. The analyzed companies have a history of more than one generation and have been established on average for 26.5 years. However, it is the companies with less than 5 years of life that show a very positive trend in turnover. Despite their small economic size, they have already increased their average revenues by more than 30%.