NEWS » Drop in Italian food and wine exports to the UK

Drop in Italian food and wine exports to the UK

Brexit is already showing its first effects: Italian food exports to the UK saw a 6.8 percent drop compared to the same period last year, while Italian wine exports fell by seven percent.

The data were released by Coldiretti, the Italian farmers' association. The figures confirm the fears expressed by Italy's winemakers in the run-up to and aftermath of the Brexit vote in June 2016. Italian wine producers have been particularly hard hit since last year’s UK referendum. Unfavourable exchange rates and increased tax on alcohol have made traditionally good value Italian wine more expensive for British consumers than it has ever been.

According to data from national statistics agency ISTAT for the first quarter of 2017, the fall in exports to the UK hit all sectors, with vehicle exports down 3.3. percent, furniture exports 7.2 percent, and textiles 12.7 percent.

Last year, the UK overtook the US as the biggest consumers of Italian wine, helping drive a 38 percent surge in sales of prosecco and other fizzy wines in the first quarter alone, overtaking champagne for the first time.

The UK was also the fourth biggest importer of Italian food products. After wine and prosecco, the most important items were pasta, fruit and vegetables, and cheese. In 2015 the value of the Italian exported products was 3.2 billion.  Wine alone produced a value of 746 million euros in exports in 2015, an upward trend of 7% on an annual basis in the first quarter of 2016. Prosecco recorded 275-million-euro export representing a real boom. (+ 55% in 2016).

The second best among the best-selling Italian agri-food products was pasta, for a total sale of 332 million euros in 2015. Fruit accounted for an export value of 281 million euros in 2015, up 6% in the first quarter of 2016. Also Made in Italy cheeses went well in the UK with a sales value in 2015 that exceeded 200 million euros, and 15% increase in the first quarter of 2016. Over one third of cheese sales was represented by Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, but buffalo mozzarella was also much required, while exports of olive oil in 2015 amounted to 57 million euros.

According to Coldiretti, the main concern for Italian products is not just the devaluation of the pound which makes the purchase of made in Italy products more expensive, but also the risk that with the exit from the European Union the new regulations might be unfavourable for Italian agro-food exports. 

Giulia Lombardo

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