The Italian food system reboots at the Cibus 2021

The Italian food industry association Federalimentare presented data foreshadowing a new season after the pandemic. The goal for 2021 is to reach €50 billion in exports and a growth in turnover of +8%, equal to €154 billion
The Italian food system reboots at the Cibus 2021

The second half of 2021 is outlining good forecasts for the Italian food system, with few precedents in its recent history. According to the Italian food industry association Federalimentare, the expansive thrust of the sector is entirely due to the exceptional acceleration of exports, while other economic parameters confirm situations and trends already known. Exports are in fact showing double-digit growth rates, driven not only by the excellent performance of the EU market but also by the significant acceleration of markets such as the USA, China, South Korea, and Russia.

Italian food system production could therefore close the year with an expansion rate of around +6.5%. In the meantime, turnover could reach around 154 billion, with an increase of +8%. Exports could reach the threshold of 50 billion. In this way, the goal identified years ago and so far disregarded due to the outspread of Covid would be reached.

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Reaching the goal of 50 billion in agri-food exports by the end of 2021 represents a symbolic moment that I want to think of as a new starting point. The changes and recovery we are experiencing, in fact, are all signs that a transition phase is underway that will lead us towards a new economic and social paradigm and F&B has all the right cards to be among the protagonists of this new era” – said the president of Federalimentare Ivano Vacondio during the opening day of Cibus 2021 trade show.

The Italian Food industry by the numbers

Turnover (billion euros)143 (-1.4%)154 (+8%)
Production (% variation in volume)-2.5%+6.5%
Employees385,000 385,000
Exports value (billion euros) 36.3 (+1%)40.3 (+11%)
Source: Federalimentare Studies Office on ISTAT data


Even with all the changes taking place – Mr. Vacondio stressed – our industry has already started to grow again, as the numbers show”. In this regard, the productions with the guaranteed geographical indication (GIs) deserve a special mention. Their value can now be estimated at around 17 billion euros. Their growth in recent years has been constantly higher than that of the aggregate food sector, and today they account for over 11% of the total turnover of the Italian food system. “It is on these solid foundations – said Vacondio that I want to inaugurate a new season for the food industry, meeting new challenges, seizing future opportunities but always remaining ready to face the threats that loom over our excellent products”.


Linked to the issue of exports is the great challenge of international trade, which undoubtedly represents a great opportunity for the Italian food industry. “Since domestic consumption has been stagnant for years now, we must focus on exports much more than we already do. By this I mean the indispensability of free trade agreements. We must continue and protect those already in place – such as the one with China or the one on Brexit – but also push towards emerging economies, where our products can conquer large slices of the market with very strong expansionary pressures. According to the latest data, Italy’s F&B has grown by double digits in Vietnam (+37.3%), Malaysia (+36.6%), and South Korea (+52.4%)” – Mr. Vacondio said.


In the face of these great opportunities, some threats of both national and international scope loom over the Italian food industry. From major ‘nutritional’ policies to attacks on the Mediterranean diet, all the way to the Nutriscore food labeling system. “Many different themes with a unique pattern – explained Vacondio – according to which behind the idea of fearing problems for the health of consumers and the sustainability of the planet there are protectionist actions that mainly attack our Made in Italy excellent products.

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