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The Italian agricultural and food districts close 2023 with a +4.5%

Intesa Sanpaolo monitors: almost 27 billion sales on foreign markets

Positive balance in 2023 for exports of Italian agri-food districts, which close with almost 27 billion sales on foreign markets and an increase of 4.5%, corresponding to almost 1.2 billion more than the previous year. This is confirmed by the "Monitor of the agro-food districts" of Intesa Sanpaolo according to which the result is in line with that recorded by the total Italian agri-food exports, which marked a +5.8% in 2023. Result "particularly positive" even if compared to the evolution of the total of the Italian manufacturing districts, that close almost unchanged 2023 (- 0.1%), "year characterized by a decided slowdown of the international trade". 

The good result, the report emphasizes, is determined also by the course of the last trimester of 2023, in which the agro-alimentary districts have maintained a positive trend, with a +4.6% tendential, while the other manufacturing districts have left on the ground almost 3% compared to the fourth quarter 2022. The price effect was significant, although it decreased compared to the peaks of the previous year: +7.9% the increase in producer prices on foreign markets for food products in 2023, +4.3% for beverages. 


Germany is confirmed as the first trading partner for the products of the agro-food districts: the slowdown of the German economy in 2023 did not reduce sales to this market (+6.7% in 2023). Instead, flows to the United States (-1.4%) close in slightly negative territory, while they grow in France (+7.5%) and in the United Kingdom (+6.6%). Emerging economies, which account for 20% of total agro-food district exports, recorded overall growth of 2.9% in 2023 (compared to +4.9% in advanced economies). These include Poland (+13.3%) and Romania (+14.5%) which more than offset the decline in flows to China (-7%) and Russia (-12.9%).

The wine

The only supply chain showing a slightly negative trend in the annual trend is that of wine, which recovered partially in the last quarter of 2023, remaining at the same levels as in the fourth quarter of 2022 and achieving, overall, only a slight decrease in value (-0.7% compared to 2022). The first market for exports of wine districts, namely the United States, fell by 7.4% in 2023, although they showed a good recovery in the latter part of the year with a +8% trend in the period October-December. To the 113 million sales that have been missing on the American market, are added more than 30 million less (-9%) on the Canadian market, only partially offset by the progress made in Germany (+29 million, up 2.8%), United Kingdom (+21million with +3.4%) and France (+28.5 million with +10%). 

Among the districts, the performance of the Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (+4.3%) stands out positively, marking important progress especially on the European markets (Germany +17%, France +29% and Belgium +50%), while falling back in the United States (-9%)the first market with almost 260 million Euro in exports in 2023, in the United Kingdom (-9%) on the third step of the podium with over 116 million after the German market that absorbs about 148 million. 

The evolution of the wine and distillates district of Friuli (+9.2% compared to 2022), the wines and distillates of Bolzano (+6.6%) and the wines and distillates of Trento (+2.3%) was also positive. On the other hand, three major districts suffer, territories producing important Italian red wines: we are talking about the wines of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato down by 4.4%), wines from the Florentine and Sienese hills (-4.5%) and wines from Verona (-1.9%). All of these show marked setbacks overseas even if, the report points out, "in past years US buyers had made important stocks of Italian wine, also favored by a strong dollar and a favorable exchange effect". 

The outlook for next year is conditioned by a vintage 2023 among the poorest in terms of quantity: in Italy extreme events, including drought, hail, floods, and the spread of the fungus of downy mildew (favored by climate change) have reduced production volumes, especially in Central-South, and seem to have penalized in particular the production of red and rose wines (-25% compared to 2022 according to the latest estimates Istat, while whites register a -18%1). To this, the report continues, are also added new consumption trends that seem to favor, especially in particularly hot years such as 2023, the consumption of wines more "fresh" and less structured, especially by the new generations.

Pasta and desserts

The pasta and desserts sector is slowing down, but remains in positive territory: the slight decrease in the fourth quarter (-0.6% trend) does not affect the positive balance of the year 2023 (+4.8%) or 214 million Euros of additional sales on foreign markets. Of these, 142 million were made by the pasta and desserts sector of Parma, a district that has achieved widespread growth towards all major commercial destinations: France (+17%), Germany (+4.6%), Switzerland (+19%), United Kingdom (+29%). Excellent performance also for Dolci di Alba and Cuneo, with a +5% in 2023: the declines towards France (-2.8%) and Spain (-5%) are more than offset by progress in Germany (+2.6%), the United States (+14%) and the United Kingdom (+11%). 

On the other hand, the pasta and sweet sectors of the two districts of Campania recorded a setback: -4% for the Neapolitan food, which fell mainly in the United Kingdom (-11%) and the United States (-7%), but grew by two figures in Canada (+34%). Food in Avellino was also negative (-10.4%), which was 28 million Euro less, 23 of which was overseas (USA -26%, a destination that absorbs a quarter of the district’s exports), only partly offset by the British (+8%), French (+42.5%)and Spanish (+44%).

It recovers instead the row of the agricultural districts, thanks to the optimal result of the fourth trimester 2023, with a double-digit increase (+14.2% trend) that brings back in positive the budget of the entire year (+3.2% regarding 2022). 

The fruit and vegetable

Excellent recovery for the fruit and vegetables of Romagna. Despite the damage caused by the floods and the spring frosts that had strongly compromised exports in the third quarter (-24.5%), the last part of the year recorded a good trend result (+4.5%), bringing the overall trend of the year into positive territory: +1.7% compared to 2022. The agricultural year 2023 was characterized by a drastic drop in production for many local fruit and vegetable specializations: the production of pears in the Romagna provinces marks average losses of 60% compared to 2022, followed by cherries (-50%), peaches and nectarines (-40%)and apricots (-25%); also kiwi (-45%), plum (-43%) and apple (-10%) lose soil in harvested volumes. 

The low production, underlines the report, has pushed up the prices at the origin, with average increases of more than 50% for apples and pears of first quality, and 30%-40% for organic production. The performance of the district is driven upwards mainly by progress in Spain (+65% in 2023) which thus becomes the third market for exports with 45.2 million Euros, almost like Belgium (45.6 million, -2.3%) and after Germany, the main buyer of fruit and vegetables in the district of Romagna, with a total import of just over 260 million Euros (+5.6%). 


Export boom in 2023 for the district of agriculture of south-eastern Sicily, which also includes the production areas of Pachino Tomato PGI: 41 million Euro more sales on foreign markets (+38.4%)distributed to all major destinations: Germany (+45%), Austria (+12%), United Kingdom (+24%), Switzerland (+40%) and France (+28%). 

Agro Pontino and Foggiano

Excellent results also for the fruit and vegetables of Agro Pontino, with a jump of about 29 million (+14%) of which 22 towards Germany (+22%), first commercial destination that absorbs more than half of the district’s exports. Very well also the agricultural sector of the fruit and vegetables and preserves of Foggia (+40%), while the other district of Puglia, the fruit and vegetables of Bari, back slightly (-3.3%), after the strong growth of 2022 (+23.7%). 

There was a slight drop in South Tyrolean apples (-1.8%) which, despite the flattering results in Spain (+32%) and the United Kingdom (+29%), suffered a reduction in flows to Saudi Arabia (-34%) and India (-59%), destinations that had recorded an exploit in 2022 (57% and 24% respectively).

The preserves

Strong growth in 2023 for the canning industry (+10.1%), mainly determined by the main district of the sector, the Conserve di Nocera (+10.3%). The district achieves over 52 million Euro in more sales in Austria (+173%) and about 40 in the UK market (+17%). Excellent results also for the canned food of Parma (+24%) and fruit and vegetables and preserves of Foggia (+21%). Export flows also increased for the Neapolitan canning sector (+6%) and the jams and fruit juices of Trentino-Alto Adige (+0.8%): slight contraction for Avellino (-2%).

The meat

Lights and shadows within the meat chain, which on the whole recorded a +5.6% trend growth in 2023, but conceals opposing dynamics between the districts that make it up: double-digit progress for meat from Verona (+12%), Parma meats (+12.7%)The South Tyrolean cold cuts (+14.3%) which, added to the good result of the Modena cold cuts (+5.9%), manage to compensate for the declines in the meat and cold cuts of Cremona and Mantua (-13.3%), the cold cuts of Reggio Emilia (-11%) and San Daniele ham (-12.8%). 

Poultry sector

The poultry sector, adds the report, seems to have entered a phase of normalization after two complex years due to the impacts of avian influenza, "while the world pig market is still influenced by the problems related to the spread of swine fever and production costs at high levels, albeit decreasing".


Overall positive dynamics also for the dairy sector (+2.6% in 2023): the slight contractions of the districts of Lombardy (-2.1%) and Reggio Emilia (-2.7%) are contrasted by the good performance of the Parmense district (+11.5%), of the Sardinian (+9.8%) and Mozzarella di bufala campana (+7.4%). 


The growth in value of the oil districts (+15.1%) is not stopped due in particular to the contribution of Tuscan oil, the main district of the industry (+17.8%), but also to the exploit of the district of olive oil and pasta of Bari (+30%). Umbrian oil is basically stable (-0.9%). On the price front, 2023 was a record year in the price list of olive oils: the low production (also by Spain, the world’s leading producer of olive oil) increased the price of extra virgin olive oil production by about 50%, in line with what happened in Spain. 

For Italy, the Ismea estimated volumes 2022-23 to 241 thousand tons with a decrease of 27% compared to the previous campaign while for the 2023-24 campaign, while remaining in a situation of uncertainty, it is expected a recovery of about 20%, as this should be a year of office, particularly in the most suitable areas of the South.


In the rice sector (+21.1%), both districts achieve double-digit growth: Pavia +15.9% and Vercelli +26.1%. On the national production front, after years of decreasing trend, for 2024 the National Risi Authority estimates for Italy a growth in the area devoted to the cultivation of rice of 5,700 hectares (+2.7%), in contrast to 2023 when rice fields lost 8 thousand hectares (-3.7%).

Coffee shop

Progress also for the coffee supply chains (+5.3%), where the Neapolitan coffee and confectionery district stands out (+13.7%), with widespread growth towards all major commercial destinations, including Germany (+27%), Poland (+57%) and Spain (+88%). The coffee of Trieste shows an increase of 8% in 2023 thanks to the contribution of the United States (+11.4%), Greece (+20.3%) and South Korea (+20.5%), which compensate for the decline towards China (-55%).


The Polesine and Veneziano Fish District (+6.1%) also performed well: progress towards Germany (+21%) and Croatia (+13.5%) offset declines on the French (-12%) and Spanish (-3%) markets. 

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EFA News - European Food Agency