Italian Gastronomy: A Business That Weighs 229 billion Euros

Everyone knows Italian gastronomy. Bars, bistros, restaurants, delicatessens, concept stores. Italian gastronomy continues to seduce and develop. To the point of weighing 229 billion euros.

Whether you are in France – where there are more than 1,500 establishments in Paris alone – in Germany, the United States, Israel or China, Italian gastronomy has become the benchmark for consumers and experts alike, who goes beyond a simple passing fad. Symbol of quality and healthiness, Italian gastronomy owes its success to the high quality of its products, which are the least processed by the food industry, and therefore the healthiest. Climate plays an important role, but that’s not all. There are four cultural factors that best explain the success of this sector of the transalpine economy.

Mediterranean diet
Italian gastronomy is the symbol of the Mediterranean diet, recognized around the world for its wholesomeness. It is no coincidence that the Italians are, along with the Japanese, the oldest people in the world.
The Slow Food movement
Founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini and conceived as a response to the spread of fast food, junk food and frenzied habits, the Slow Food movement studies, defends and disseminates agricultural, gastronomic and wine traditions from around the world. Slow Food is committed to defending biodiversity and peoples’ rights to food sovereignty, fighting against the standardization of flavors, massive agriculture and genetic manipulation.
Culture of the product and attachment to the terroir
The attachment to its land and its traditions has blurred the advance of “globalized products” often produced by multinational food companies of which Italians are very wary because they know very well that it is difficult to know the quality and the wholesomeness of a product that does not use the same production and quality standards.
Organic farming
Italy is the first country in Europe by number of certified organic companies, with 15.5% of its total agricultural area cultivated organically, or two million hectares. For a country that has only 23% of plains – because it is very mountainous – this is a huge result.
The sector’s weight in national GDP
The agri-food sector which includes agricultural production, the processing industry, distribution and catering is today the country’s leading economic and social sector with a turnover of 538 billion euros and around 3.6 million euros. of employees. Its added value is 119 billion (equal to the total sum of the GDP of Norway and Denmark). As for exports, they reached a value of 44.6 billion euros, up 5.3% compared to 2018. The main destination market for Italian agrifood products is the European Union which, with 28, 4 billion euros in 2019 (+ 2.6% compared to 2018), absorbs around 64% of national exports. The main European customers are Germany, with purchases for 7.2 billion (+ 0.8%), followed by France with 5 billion (+ 5%), the United Kingdom with 3.4 billion (+ 0 , 7%), the Netherlands with 1.64 billion (+ 6.1%).
Italian gastronomy is worth € 229 billion worldwide
The turnover of Italian gastronomy in the world in 2018 amounted to 229 billion euros, or about 10% of global catering (which itself weighs 2,563 billion euros). China, with 71 billion, is the first market, with a penetration of 15.8%. The United States has the highest penetration rate, equal to 35.7%, and a total turnover of 69 billion euros. India and Brazil also show strong penetration of Italian cuisine (24.9% and 28.2% respectively). The goal of reaching 300 billion in 2021 is quite possible, if we calculate the new demands from Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.

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