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ITALIAN TUNA DOMINATES ABROAD AND DOUBLES EXPORTS
The Italian tuna fish market is a mature market, characterized by industrialized craftsmanship which qualifies production, and is worth around 415 million euros. Producers are organized within ANCIT, the Italian Association of ichthyic and shore-based tuna trap fisheries preservers, a member of the Italian Food Industry Association FEDERALIMENTARE (www.federalimentare.it/). ANCIT brings together 13 processing companies with as many plants, whose production capacity is of approximately 170,000 tons of raw tuna. National production of tuna preserves is around 91,000 tons per year, compared with a demand which ranges from 120,000 to 125,000 tons per year.
Italy is the third producer of canned tuna worldwide after Spain and France. No statistics exist for the sole tuna business, but the fish preserves sector as a whole registered a 2007 turnover of 768 million euros (based on wholesale value). Insofar as demand is concerned, the market is shortly expected to enter a stable period. Within the fish preserves category, operators estimate that certain product groups will grow slightly, such as brined tuna and tuna-based salads. The Italian fishing industry, in particular, will continue to defend its market share thanks to its ability to diversify its offer with a few characteristic regional specialties. However, production volumes for these products remain limited and will not be contributing significantly to the sectorâ€™s growth.
On the other hand, volumes are much greater for other products such as frozen tuna fillets and tuna preserves, which â€“ according to ISTAT, the Italian Statistics Institute â€“ recorded a real boom in exports to 5.44 million euros in 2007, +86.25% compared with the previous year. Even though Europeans consume approximately 650,000 tons of canned tuna every year, only half of which is satisfied by European products, in the EU-27 exports are only worth 760,000 euros. The bulk of exports of tuna preserves and frozen fillets is therefore destined for foreign markets.
As the legacy of a centuries old traditional craft, today tuna is treated by the Italian preserves industry with great care and attention, also thanks to state-of-the-art production technologies and processes carried out in the most scrupulous respect of hygiene and safety rules: the quality of the final product is, therefore, extremely high. The secret of Italian-made tuna lies precisely in a particular processing phase, the double â€ścleansingâ€ť of the fillets which is done by hand. â€śCleansersâ€ť minutely clean the skin, the bones, and the darker parts (with great care to remove the potential bruising the meat can present and which undermine the aesthetic quality of the product).