«More innovation to offer quality food at the right price» - Corriere.it

«More innovation to offer quality food at the right price» - Corriere.it

More support from institutions, but also more innovation from companies, to face the aging population and fight against counterfeiting, asks Paolo Barilla, new president of the Unione Italiana Food, the association that brings together more than 900 brands and 550 companies Italian agri-food industries, with over 100,000 employees, and represents an export share of 18 billion (+20% on 2021). In other words: one out of two Italian food products consumed in the world made by Unionfood.

President Barilla, what are the main findings of the Edison Foundation Report on the importance of Unionfood sectors for the economy presented yesterday?

The report highlights that the food industries have a fundamental and representative role within the Italian manufacturing system. Behind their success there is the perfect synthesis between a strong and recognizable identity and the innovation that allows our products to respond to the changing needs and expectations of the Italian and international consumer.

In 2022, Unionfood's turnover rose to 51 billion (+12%), driven primarily by pasta and coffee. Does the increase reflect consumer choices towards staples against inflation?

Italian food products have high added value and the 2022 results reflect the quality that the market recognizes us. On the other hand, we are coming from a difficult year due to the exponential increase in production costs, from raw materials to transport, energy and packaging. We have faced these challenges by focusing on quality, innovation and sustainability. In times of widespread economic difficulty, consumers and families concentrate their choices on basic necessities. The post pandemic has stimulated a rebalancing of consumption, but the consumer has had to react to the inflationary push with greater attention to waste and in purchasing choices. Luckily, our companies make good products available, with accessible high nutritional quality, which can help families in the family budget.

The numbers show a healthy sector, despite the climate crisis, drought and price increases... What is the biggest challenge?

The food industry that we represent as a strong Unionfood and the challenges of recent years have always been linked to exogenous factors. To remain competitive and continue to grow, we need the support and collaboration of institutions to be ever more effective in using available resources and create value for the entire Italian supply chain. But it is equally important to clear the field of ideological positions and fake news that humiliate the innovation and future of many companies.

We must insist on the strong innovative drive that distinguishes Italian companies. The population changes and consumers change: on the one hand the average age rises, on the other we have to intercept the tastes of the new generations. The near future of food businesses will therefore be even more focused on listening. Understanding the needs, the new methods of use and consumption occasions will be our task.

And to fight counterfeiting?

In the world it continues to createing the demand for Made in Italy, just think that Italian sounding is worth around 100 billion dollars a year globally, our task is to be able to conquer those market shares, enhancing the origin and quality of our products.

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