The Italian government is making exports to China one of the key planks in its relaunch of the “Made in Italy” brand.
Rome is promoting its agriculture produce as high-quality and attempting to attract new customers by the use of blockchain technology to guarantee its authenticity and freshness.
Italian farmers are also to benefit directly from a €1.15 billion (£1.3 billion) fund to boost production – though analysts have warned the investment isn’t sufficient to repair the damage to the sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Exports of wine, cheese, cured meats and other products from Italy to China have been steadily rising over recent years.
However, the arrival of Covid-19 has reversed the trend, with the economic downturn likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Export expert Giorgia Palazzo told Chinese news agency Xinhua that while the ‘Made in Italy’ brand was already well known and respected, it was in need of being modernized and refocused.
“There are new ways to innovate, such as blockchain, as well as traditional methods, like the participation in trade fairs,” he said.
“Chinese consumers are spending more on high-quality goods. Italy has to stand ready.”
Denis Pantini, head of the agro-industry division for Nomisma, said while all export markets were important, with China there was a great deal of room to grow.
“Before the pandemic, Italian wine imports made up only around six per cent of the Chinese import market; Italian food products were only around two per cent. That shows how much potential there is.”
He went on: “In many international markets, consumers don’t know what it means for a product to be from a specific region of the country.
“But they do know what it means when something is produced in Italy.”