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Italy at PRODEXPO 2008 looks for new opportunities in the Russian market
To consolidate and strengthen the presence of Italian food & drink products on the Russian market. This is the objective of the Italian companies that – under the aegis of the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) - are about to take part in the 2008 edition of Prodexpo , planned to take place in Moscow on 11-15th February in the Zao Expocentr exhibition complex. The fair, having reached its 15th edition, has established itself as the major event for the food & drink industry in the ex-Soviet region, including Eastern Europe. Its success is documented by the rise in the number of exhibitors from 450 in the 1994 edition to 2,197 last year. In the same period of time, the exhibition space has grown from just under 9,000 to over 42,500 square meters.
In last year’s edition, almost 2/3 of exhibitors were Russian (64%), while the remaining 36% came from 61 nations. Italy’s share of exhibitors (3%) was one of the most significant, and this year Prodexpo is again set to offer the opportunity to cement the links that are gradually building up between the Italian agro-industrial industry and Russian consumers. Exports are growing on average by 30% a year, and in 2006 they were worth 360 million euros, i.e. 1.57% of the total Italian food & drink exports. Although there are no official figures, for the year 2007 Italian exports in this sector should reach the value of 24 billion euros, as the Italian minister for Agriculture, Paolo De Castro, has anticipated in November.
Even though the share of exports to Russia remains low, the plan is to increase this share regularly over the coming years. Besides, Italy believes more and more in Russia’s potential, as Mr. De Castro assured a few months ago: “The Russian market – he said – represents a great opportunity for Made in Italy products”. The most popular items in Russia are wines, followed by pasta and prepared or conserved fruit. The rise in demand for Italian wine is significant, and reflects the overall rise in pro-capita annual wine consumption in Russia, which has doubled over 3 years to 6.2 litres. There are no updated figures as yet, but it is hoped that 2007 will close with a boom in wine exports to Russia, as it did at the beginning of the year, with an 81% increase to 8.7 million euros in January-February. Meanwhile, in the first eight months of 2007 Italian food & drink exports (source: ICE) have increased by 43% to 179.4 million euros.
Russia, however, is not just an important export destination. Some of the leading brands of the Italian food & wine industry have also started producing in the country: the Parmalat group, for example, owns two milk and fruit juice plants in Ekaterinburg and Belgorod, while the Perfetti group, looking to win a bigger market share on the local market, set up a plant in 2006 to manufacture chewing gum and sweets.