Milan. The fashion capital of the world where designer boutiques rub shoulders with quaint cafes and patisseries. This Italian city is also home to Tuttofood, organised by Fiera Milano, one of the world’s largest organisers of exhibitions. This year the event saw over 78,000 certified industry visitors with a sharp increase in foreign visitors (up 78.7 per cent) from 119 countries over the four days of the event. The exhibition space was divided into 10 pavilions (four more than 2013, when it was last staged) with exhibitor companies representing a broad spectrum of the agri-food sector, from dairy products to meat to coffee. This year Tuttofood also introduced new sectors such as fish and gluten free.
Corrado Peraboni, CEO of Fiera Milano, said, “The figures from this edition, especially the number of targeted business appointments, painted a clear picture: Tuttofood is ‘the’ tool par excellence for the next stage of Italian agri-food internationalisation. It is thanks to the show that a large number of high-quality SMEs have obtained access to markets where it would otherwise be exceedingly difficult for them to earn recognition in any other way. The target of €50 billion in exports is increasingly within reach for Italy’s food system, and we are doing our bit.”
Fabio Aromatici, head of international development, Fiera Milano added, “An exhibition is a strong mirror of the market it represents. A strong exhibition means a strong market.”
Business matching registered a veritable boom: around 2,100 select international top buyers met 2,838 exhibitors (433 from outside Italy) representing 7,000 brands at 11,790 meetings scheduled in advance through the online Expo Matching Programme calendar.
International buyer interest
A survey of top international buyers during the event reveals that Italian products are sought around the world not only for the appeal of the country’s food and drink, but also because they have a reputation of being natural, safe and of high-quality. Among emerging markets, the Indians and Chinese are the most attentive to the added value of all-Italian ingredients, while the Middle Eastern consumers are most appreciative of its natural qualities. Americans and Northern Europeans are particularly keen on seeking out original, relatively unknown specialities.
Among traditional markets, the largest number of international buyers came from the USA, Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom. There was also strong buyer interest from the Middle East, India, China, Brazil and Australia, and from ‘one-off’ countries like Sweden, Lithuania and New Zealand. “In India, Brand Italia is synonymous with quality and status,” said Sanjay Tandon, managing director, Epicure Frozen Foods and Beverages. “One of the most promising products include cheese – unknown in the India market until recently for climate related reasons. Cheese is becoming more and more popular. Grana padano alone represents 25 per cent of the value of our imports from Italy,” he added.
Talking of India, Fiera Milano will soon be bringing its Business to Consumer (B2C) event, Good Food & Wine Show (GFWS) for the first time to India. The show will be held in Mumbai in December 2015. Aromatici informed, “GFWS has been held in South Africa for the past 16 years in three locations: Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng. It is a successful B2C show with 120,000 targeted visitors last year, netting 200 million rand in national coverage across all media. We are now taking the show outside Africa to India where we are already present through Global Fairs & Media (a joint venture between The Indian Express and Hannover Milano Fairs India). Unlike in South Africa where the event is held alongside Food Hospitality World (FHW), a B2B event in Mumbai, it will be a standalone event in the first year and we are confident it will be a huge success. In the future we may have it alongside the FHW trade show.” He added, “We plan to link it to Bollywood and invite the right celebrities to the show to give it the glam factor and bring in the crowds.”
GFWS showcases top South African and international chefs (past events have featured, among others, Michelin-starred legends Gordon Ramsay and Giorgio Locatelli), restaurants, wines and cutting-edge trends in haute cuisine. A wealth of interactive displays and demonstrations are offered, from exclusive private cooking lessons with the finest chefs to exhibitions from boutique wine-houses.
Visitors to Milan are also making their way to Expo Milano 2015, a universal exposition which opened on May 1, 2015 and will close on October 31, 2015. This is the second time Milan is hosting the exposition, the first being in 1906. The Expo is being held under the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life and has pavilions from countries like Europe, the USA, Asia and Africa.
A new food plan
Food is a prime sector for Italy’s economy, accounting for 15 per cent of the GDP and generating exports of €33 billion. Maurizio Martina, Italy’s minister for agricultural, food and forestry policy said, “Food can become the turning point for the Italian economy if we focus on internationalisation. The target of €50 billion in exports by 2020 is within reach, and is being pursued through an extraordinary plan due to be rolled out in June – a tool that the industry has been seeking for a long time.”
As the minister explained, the plan is part of a multi-level strategy, “The plan targets three different areas: consolidated, emerging and new markets. We will be unveiling an overall food mark in June. We are fine-tuning all of the different parts of our repositioning strategy, and events like Tuttofood can make all the difference. Italy cannot move forward without public/ private synergy.”
This need for diversification has been confirmed by the international buyers at the Fair, selected in part with the support of ITA – Italian Trade Agency during scouting missions in a number of countries. The Agency has played a significant role for this edition of Tuttofood, including through joint promotional initiatives in target countries like the USA, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Help could also arrive by simplifying the legislative and regulatory framework at home. This was a topic of debate at the Operation Simplification conference organised by AIDEPI – the Associazione delle Industrie del Dolce e della Pasta Italiane, in partnership with the MIPAAF Ministry, the Ispettorato Centrale della Tutela delle Qualità e Repressione Frodi, the Sistema Informativo Nazionale, the Ministry for Economic Development and the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopòli customs agency.
The new regulations will be of interest to at least a 100,000 companies that include dematerialisation, a shift from paper to digital for the completion of all requirements regarding a series of products reserved exclusively for export. Compliance with regulations will become simpler, reducing a number of costs and delays, and this will help small companies to try their hand on foreign markets.
Award ceremonies were held for two competitions focusing respectively on innovation and certified quality, and featuring top products presented by the almost 3000 companies that were present at Tuttofood. After interviewing a sample of around 1200 consumers, Italy’s leading market research company IPSOS pre-selected 24 products for international buyers at the event to vote for and choose a winner.
The competition for the Most Innovative Products was won by Passata Di Pomodoro Idroponico, made by Ferrari Farm Società Agricola S.r.l, a purée of tomatoes made exclusively from tomatoes grown using hydroponic technology (with no earth) in completely hermetic and sterile next-generation greenhouses; L’altra Bresaola made by the Raspini company in the meat and cold cuts sector, sold in a resealable tray unique in the industry for maintaining long-term freshness; the Dolcezza Ricotta E Cioccolato specialty product made by Campo D’oro Di Licata Paolo & C, a modern interpretation of the Sicilian cannolo as a spreadable cream; Appy Drinks by FPB Distribution Group Srl, a kids’ drink sweetened with Stevia that uses only natural colourings and flavourings; the L’abc Della Merenda by Parmareggio, a snack conceived to provide the right amount of calories and essential nutritional components (protein, carbohydrate and fat); Il Tartufo Limoncello by Callipo Gelateria S.r.l, a new version of a Pizzo truffle ice cream, offered in a variety with a Limoncello centre; Più Frutta Goji by Vis Srl, the first jam to be made using pure Goji berries and preserve their properties; and Fantasie Di Sgombro Delicius from Delicius Rizzoli Spa, which uses mackerel, a fish high in Omega 3, for a very healthy fish-based salad.
Expo Business Matching
Expo Business Matching, promoted by Expo Milano 2015 in partnership with Fiera Milano, Milan Chamber of Commerce, Promos and PwC, is a web platform for business meetings, specially created to encourage and facilitate international relations between enterprises during the six months of the Expo.
The presence of over 140 countries at Expo 2015 from May to October, bringing trade delegations and representatives from institutions to Italy, is an extraordinary opportunity for Italian enterprises to forge relations with the world. Expo Business Matching will put companies interested in working with overseas in contact with the relative foreign counter-parties that best meet their needs.
Italian and international producers, distributors, suppliers, buyers and investors will have a platform capable of registering the mutual areas of interest and to identify the situations with the highest likelihood of creating real alliances. This will be followed by physical one-on-one meetings at Fiera Milano.
Tuttofood also promoted another competition dedicated to certified quality in partnership with Qualivita – a foundation for the protection and leveraging of premium food products. The competition was intended to highlight the importance of a geographical indication-based approach, particularly for its benefits in terms of traceability and security. The winners of this competition were Kamut Khorasan Bio Schiacciatina Mantovana made by Bottoli Spa Industria Panificazione, a thin low-calorie focaccia packaged to replace bread or quick snacks; Salame Felino IGP made by Prosciuttificio San Michele S.r.l, prepared using pure selected pork thigh meat, peeled and vacuum packed in straw paper; Panettone Classico Bio made by Idb Srl, a traditional organic sourdough panettone; Espresso Mediterraneo Organic from Caffè Morettino, organic fairtrade coffee beans; Valtellina Casera DOP, a semi-hard cheese made by Latteria Sociale di Chiuro; Pizza Margherita Bio di Grano Khorasan Kamut from Italpizza, frozen, left to rise for 24 hours, handrolled, baked in a woodfired oven and made with Khorasan KAMUT grain and other selected strictly organic ingredients; and Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP Biologico made by Acetificio Andrea Milano Srl.
The next edition of Tuttofood is scheduled from May 7 to 10, 2017.