THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURAL, FOOD AND FORESTRY POLICIES: PROTECTING PRODUCTS
In order to protect certified Italian products, Italy’s Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies has undertaken two projects:
- The “Project to register PDO and PGI product logos and provide international legal protection for them,” carried out in cooperation with BUONITALIA S.p.a., is intended to provide operational support to efforts by the protection consortiums and producer associations to combat unfair competition and counterfeiting in foreign markets.
The project is intended to meet the need for support for GI product protection bodies in their efforts to protect and monitor, in order to combat episodes of unfair competition which, especially abroad, have a negative impact on how markets develop.
The ministry intends to consolidate and organise the phases of monitoring and assistance in order to best support the protecting consortiums and producers in registering their trademarks and providing legal protection.
The project calls for the following activities:
• Registration abroad of the trademarks corresponding to the Italian PDO and PGI
• Constant monitoring of markets to identify product infringement
• Taking legal action to protect these Italian geographic designations.
The United States and Canada have been identified as pilot areas for monitoring and databanks; protection and registration efforts are implemented according to the requests received by the consortiums. Cheeses, cured meats and fruits and vegetables have been selected for investigation, monitoring and databank work.
The results of the project will be used as a pilot case for a larger and more strategic effort with the following objectives:
• Increasing knowhow in combating unlawful acts perpetrated against PDO and PGI food products and in general the excellence of Made in Italy products at home and abroad
• Coordinating functions among the various responsible bodies in Italy and abroad
• Harmonising the efforts made by all parties currently involved in the sector
• Constantly monitoring and making sense of information relating to registrations, counterfeiting and international legislation by organizing it in a databank that can be shared with and used by those involved in the industry and in the oversight bodies.
- The “Italianissimi” project, carried out in cooperation with the Rome Chamber of Commerce, is intended to counter the problem of “Italian-Sounding” products: these are products that are Italian in name only. We are talking about those foods and beverages that are produced and sold inappropriately using words, images, trademarks and recipes that refer to Italy. They not only represent a false guarantee for foreign consumers but above all cause serious damage to our country’s producers: more than 60 billion Euros, more than half the total value of Italian agricultural and food production and three times more than Italy’s exports in this sector.
The leading markets for “Italian-Sounding” products are in the West: the United States, Mexico and Canada account for almost half of total sales, whereas another 39 percent arrives from Europe. In France, pseudo-Italian products outnumber original ones by two to one, and in Germany and the Netherlands by almost three to one.
Based on the experience of the protection consortiums, legal protection efforts alone are not enough to ensure consistent protection for the market. At the same time, the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies has decided to begin efforts to restore fair competition to markets by educating consumers and raising their awareness.
The overall objective of the Italianissimi project is therefore to sensitize and educate American consumers about the importance of geographic origin for Italian food products and the inherent meaning of the PDO and PGI trademarks (the concept of authenticity and guarantee).
Briefly, the project calls for the following:
Efforts on American soil (New York metropolitan area):
1) informing and educating American consumers when they purchase food products so that the consumer can make an informed choice by selecting a “true Italian food” product rather than a counterfeit one, through comparative tastings and distribution of informational materials (for example, recipes, product guides, etc.). Tastings are held at some of the leading food stores in New York. (See the schedule in the news section.)
2) media campaign (specialised magazines, TV broadcasts and food blogs), publishing ads in the press, campaign banners, etc.
Efforts in Italy (Rome):
1) awareness-raising, informational and educational efforts targeting American tourists visiting Rome, through comparative tastings in the style of “Aperitivo all’italiana, training and educational events (see the schedule in the news section).
2) distribution of informative materials at tourist-information points around Rome Province and at a selection of hotels in the city (4 and 5 star).