Assica - the Industrial Meat and Salumi Association - returns to Rome and the prestigious Confindustria venue for its AGM. An important occasion for taking stock of the situation and continue dialogue with institutions focusing on the sector's priorities, especially exports.
The 'salumi' market, with almost 1.2 billion euros of exports and turnover of 8 billion euros, is one of the main sectors in the food industry.
Export: overcome tariff and non-tariff barriers
'We must urgently and definitively solve problems affecting exports of salumi and pork to all those non-EU countries where tariff and non-tariff barriers still exist,' - said President Ferrarini forcefully. 'To accomplish this topics such as exports, overcoming of tariff and non-tariff barriers and safeguarding 'made in Italy' must become a full-scale 'obsession' underlying all Government action. It must become a priority on the agendas not only of the Ministers directly involved in our sector (Agriculture, Economic Development and Health) but of all Government figures, from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Culture.'
'In any case, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi himself recently outlined the ambitious goal of exporting 50 billion euros of agro-food products by 2020, up from the current figures of 33 billions. Yet without a strong Country System, I fear that the 50 billion euro target is a chimera,' - President Ferrarini continued.
Italy in Autumn 2013 defined a new tool, promoted forcefully by ASSICA, to tackle the problems in the Italian food sector, from our supply chain and the agro-food round table. The round table - in collaboration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Ministry of Economic Development - is already achieving a great deal. Yet it is not enough to help companies export their produce.
Over the last year, the difficulties encountered by producers as regards exports of cured meats, in some cases, have actually worsened: from problems with the United States to the blockade by Russia. This is also why it is increasingly crucial to achieve definitive eradication of veterinary diseases, as the Association has requested animal farmers and institutions to do for many years: the presence of diseases in certain regions prevents our companies exporting fresh pork and short maturing salumi products to all major international markets, resulting every year in losses estimated at about 250 million euros.
'We must make full use of the next 18 months when - between the European Presidency and Expo 2015 - Italy will have a unique opportunity to manage an important part of the EU and international relations agenda. The agro-food industry is ready to rise to the challenge and to do its part, even by making efforts to overcome its structural limits,' - said Ferrarini.
Make Italy a place that does not obstructs people doing business
Another by no less worrying factor for the sector is the fact that the crisis has squeezed the margins in the value chain in a manner that is no longer sustainable. Companies have suffered for far too long from excessive bureaucracy, high energy costs and the rigidity of the labour market: all aspects that affect profits and prevent company growth and investments.
'In our sector, streamlining the thousands of controls which companies are subjected to would be an excellent start. A simple single register would in fact reduce double checking and ensure savings for the State and companies alike. All without the least affecting the safety of the supply chain,' - the President pointed out.
sector 'system building' thanks to the salumitrasparenti.it platform
Streamlining not only involves excessive bureaucracy but also means simple, clear and stable regulations for companies. 'We must stop proposing national regulations on matters of EU competence. Over the past 10 years, there have been several attempts to introduce Italian legislation on the origin of foodstuffs but these standards have always been incompatible with EU law and therefore inapplicable,' - the President pointed out.
It is clear, however, that the issue of food origin is intensely felt both in Italy and Europe as a whole. So much so that the European Commission presented, on 17 December 2013, a Report discussing compulsory indication of the country of origin for meat used as an ingredient.
The report highlighted that the country of origin is the fourth type of information that consumers consider when buying products containing meat (48% of consumers). Despite such interest, they are not particularly willing to pay more to obtain more assurances: the research highlights that a higher price means that the 'willingness to pay' among consumers decreases by 60-80%.
The salumi sector was consequently obliged to study a system that meets the needs of consumers by providing an indication of the country of origin of the raw material without this information having an impact on price. Consequently, Salumi Transparenti was set up as the first sector project on a European scale to provide a simple, fast and free way to check data for products on the market by entering the EAN code in the system. Information made available includes the place of production and the country of origin of the raw material and only involves few steps.
'We are asking the Government to build a system but we are not merely looking on since our sector is actually the first industry in Europe to provide such a tool,' - the President concluded.
In Autumn, consumers can simply surf to www.salumitrasparenti.it to find the identity cards for many pre-packaged delicatessen meats on the market simply by entering the EAN code in the system. Product data cards are available simply by entering the code in the site's search engine or by reaching the product in questions from a producer's link.
It will also be possible - by downloading a free App (iOS and Android) - to make searches when buying products simply by framing their bar codes with the camera of such devices: the product data card will be automatically shown.
Source: Assica Press Office - Industrial Meat and Salumi Association
Assica - Industrial Meat and Salumi Association, is the national organisation that, within the context of Confindustria, represents pig slaughtering and pork processing companies. Activities carried out by Assica within the framework of its institutional purposes cover various areas, including the definition of economic policies in the sector, information and assistance for 160 associates in economic/business, health, regulatory, technical, legal and trade union fields. Expertise, a collaborative approach and reliability are assured by specialist personnel and supported by participation in various association organisations on a national and Eu scale. In fact, since its foundation in 1946, Assica has always distinguished itself for a strong associative spirit, as highlighted by its membership of Confindustria (from its year of foundation), Federalimentare, the Italian Federation of Food Industries (as a founding member) and Clitravi, the European Federation that brings together national associations of meat processors (which it helped set up in 1957).