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THE ITALIAN DINING TABLE IS ALL LAID OUT IN SHANGHAI FOR CHINA’S FOOD HOSPITALITY
The highest quality extra-virgin olive oil, to be sampled perhaps on a bruschetta toast along with mozzarella, cheeses, truffle and pizza. Then there are wines, beers, syrups and the best blends of coffee to be enjoyed in the form of an ‘espresso’ made the Italian way, in a Moka machine. These are the special ingredients that will allow Italian firms taking part in the Food and Hospitality China 2012 trade fair in Shanghai between the 14th and 16th of November to achieve great success.
The event is considered one of the most important in China’s agri-food sector, and the Italian firms, coordinated by ICE (Italian Trade Promotion Agency) represent the sector’s market leaders. The group will be truly wide-ranging and varied, because there will be firms representing different regions of Italy that will bring with them traditional local fare and products that have a fair number of dissimilarities. In the field of wine and gastronomy Italian exports to China are constantly growing. In 2011 turnover totalled 300 million dollars (+46% compared to 2010) and Italy already ranks first in some sectors such as chocolate, pasta and tomato purees, second for olive oil, mineral water and sparkling wines, third for coffee and bottled wines and fifth for cheeses.
Particular attention will be focused, as a first-level partner, on those Italian companies attending the fair both by visitors and local operators. They will be seeking out the best products and most valid business opportunities and endeavouring to build on existing trade relations or to create totally new ones. The 800-square-metre Italian Pavilion, which is to be split into two sections (food sectors companies in one and wine companies in the other), will offer an almost comprehensive overview of Italian food and wine products and the services offered by ICE (Italian Trade Promotion Agency), where emphasis will be placed on providing the possibility of choosing the right interlocutor for face-to-face meetings.
Overall, Italy is classified twenty-fifth in the rankings of exporting countries, thanks also a strong reduction in duties and the issue of simplified import licenses, as well as the deregulation of wholesale and retail markets. Nevertheless, efforts are still required to bring about growth and development in the partnership between the two countries. The first difficult hurdle to be overcome (but certainly not an impossible one) is that of combining the different gastronomic traditions, something that will be attempted through specific seminars dedicated to visitors and buyers to allow them to discover the tastes of Italy. The second relates to tariff barriers and other kinds of obstacles, such as health controls and burdensome and unclear admin procedures. Finally there is also the problem of an absence of local Chinese distribution channels, with retail still being a relatively 'young' sector in China. Events such as Food and Hospitality China are therefore important showcase events with which to attempt to break down certain types of barriers and get to know Italian food and wine products, aided and assisted perhaps by a growth in Chinese tourism towards Italy that will lead to the discovery of flavours and tastes that it would be wonderful to be able to experience when back home.