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ITALIAN SLICERS AND MEAT MINCERS CONTINUE TO BE EXPORTED
The slicer and meat mincer industry remains untouched by the economic crisis, especially on the international market where exports increase at a rate of nearly 30% annually. Domestic demand is now being met throughout the country with stable shares of the market, though the Italian products continue to excel most of all overseas. “Ours are historic companies that have been on the market for practically half a century. We are now recognized as real international leaders,” stated Nicola Marzaro, president of the group of manufacturers of slicers and meat mincers and similar goods belonging to Assofoodtec, the Italian Association of Constructors of Machines, Installations and Equipment for Food Production, Manufacture and Conservation.
Italy, Marzaro explained, has succeeded in securing its leadership of the professional sector over the years, positioning itself at an intermediate level between the industrial and domestic segments of demand: “We manufacture machinery not for those factories that produce ham and salami, but for meat processing factories, supermarkets and butcher’s shops.” A top player in the field is Sirman, a company founded by Marzaro that deals with the entire range of products, from slicers to meat processing machines. Another historic operator is the La Minerva company, founded in 1945: traditionally based on meat processing solutions, a recent acquisition has allowed it to extend its range to include other products. Marzaro explained: “Another two important operators such as Omas and Manconi are instead specialized mainly in slicers.”
Italian manufacturers of slicers and meat mincers ended 2007 with a 29.7% increase in exports, to the tune of 96 million Euros. The industry also expects to confirm in 2008 the boom of the previous year, with exports up 25% to 120 million Euros. The constant success on international markets is confirmed by the consolidated effect of exports on the industry’s profits, expected to account for 49% of the total at the end of 2008 (it was 36% in 2006). The turnover of slicer and meat mincer manufacturers should, overall, increase by 9.4% in 2008 to 245 million after the 10.3% hike of 2007. Marzaro pointed out: “The industry has done well, in spite of the mad cow disease: the meat business retains an edge even though the recent crisis has let only the strongest industries pull through. We must mind however that we offer a service of quality.”
The traditional outlet for Italian exports of slicers with inclined, vertical and automatic blades, mincers, graters and bone saws remains Western Europe. Marzaro added: “Russia, however, has increased exponentially. We are also beginning to look to the Far East. We have a monopoly in the Middle East, but the market there is less valuable as the local tradition of processing meat is not so developed.” Lastly, in America, appreciation of the Euro has encouraged companies to focus production in Latin America and thereby remain competitive with the United States.
In response to the constant increase in the cost of materials and energy, Italian businesses are resorting to company reorganization strategies, choosing outsourcing over in-house skills and external production over provisioning on the foreign markets. Investment in 2007 increased by 8% and remained stable in 2008, and was intended mainly for the replacement or extension of production capacity. Marzaro concluded, “Innovation is essential for satisfying demand. Businesses are acting on two fronts: designing machinery or equipment that is ever easier to clean, for complying with food safety regulations, and offering applications that are much more versatile.” This is the case of hydraulic bagging machines, which do a job that, until recently, had to be done entirely by hand.