The Sweet Taste : Business Opportunities & Perspectives for Italian Food & Wine in India

“In Italia si mangia bene” which means that in Italy one eats well. However Italy is not just about dining and drinking alone. It is about an Italian lifestyle which celebrates quality and the finer aspects of life that go beyond visual beauty and presentation and can be rightly summed up by the words “La bella figura”. It is for this reason that the world wants Italian be it fashion, luxury goods, food or wine.

To promote Italian products in the Indian market, explore new business avenues and to foster a stronger cooperation with Indian companies, the Italian Trade Agency, the trade promotion office of the Italian Embassy organised two one-day workshops in New Delhi. The first tilted “La Dolce Vita” held on 10th March 2016 at DLF Emporio, Vasant Kunj, was a celebration of Italian Luxury & Lifestyle.

The second titled “The Sweet Taste” at the Leela Palace, New Delhi on 27th April 2016 was about Business Opportunities & Perspectives for Italian Food & Wine in India. In his opening address Francesco Pensabene, Italian Trade Commissioner for India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives & Bangladesh told us how Indo-Italian business relations were on the upswing and how “Italy was back in India” after having gone through some downs because of certain unfortunate circumstances which have now been resolved.

Francesco Pensabene, Italian Trade Commissioner & Director of the Trade Promotion Office of the Italian Embassy speaking at The Sweet Taste
Francesco Pensabene, Italian Trade Commissioner & Director of the Trade Promotion Office of the Italian Embassy speaking at The Sweet Taste

There was a short film which spoke of certain stereotypes which always come to mind when one thinks of Italians. They are known as Mamma’s Boys, Latin Lovers, Gesticulators, Crazy Drivers, Party Addicts, Dolce Vita Lovers and Football Maniacs. Italy is bent upon changing this image and wants to be noticed for its business power, technological prowess and its UNESCO recognized world heritage sites rather than all the things mentioned above, which may or may not be true. This initiative falls under the umbrella of the programme called “Italy : The Extraordinary Commonplace”

The Italian ambassador to India H.E Lorenzo Angeloni spoke briefly about the changed economic environment in Italy because of reforms in every sector due to which Italy was in a better position to invest. Italy had regained its voice in the European Economic Community and was emerging out of a low growth cycle. Right now the current share of Italy’s exports in the Indian food and wine industry was a mere 0.5%. They are looking at a growth rate of 27-30% in the next four years in this sector as Italian food is synonymous with quality and 80% of it is free of genetically modified cultivation and adheres to strict controls and certification.

H.E Lorenzo Angeloni, Italian Ambassador of Italy to India
H.E Lorenzo Angeloni, Italian Ambassador of Italy to India

The workshop saw several sessions conducted by Indian and Italian experts on fruits & vegetables, olive oil, wine including a live cooking demonstration by Italian Chef Diego Martinelli of Le Cirque, Leela Palace New Delhi. Rakesh Banga, Founder Director FIFI (Forum of Indian Food Importers) threw light on the difficulties of importing food into India due to Tariff & Non-Tariff barriers, volatile and ever changing Food Safety Regulations, high custom duties and challenges of meeting FSSAI labelling requirements.

Paolo Bruni, President CSO Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli (Italian Fruit & Vegetable Services Centre) a service company located in 13 Italian regions serving as an access point to contact leading Italian companies from packaging, technology, logistics and services, spoke about the immense scope of exporting fresh fruits to India like kiwi, apples, pears, grapes and oranges.

Indian consumption in the food and wine sector is huge due to an “aspiring middle class” with disposable income which has doubled in recent years. There is a great demand for high-end products like parmesan cheese, truffle, parma ham, balsamic vinegar, pasta that Italy can meet.

Sumit Saran, Head of International Foods, Future Group India, India’s largest retail company catering to all segments of the population spoke of the need to understand that India is different from other markets and foreign companies wanting to do business in India must know the 10 mantras for discovering the pot of gold in India. 1. Trouble will not go away…accept it 2. There may be clutter at the bottom but there is always room at the top 3. Define your India by having a clear market strategy 4. Partner with modern retail 5. Bad apples are not unique to India 6. It is not just about investments, Get involved; 7. Price is important, Value is critical; 8. Reach out or you will be lost, 3P’s Partner, Promote & Persevere; 9. Variety is the spice of life, Keep the taste buds excited and 10. There is life beyond Google…Come and smell the chai for yourself.

An Italian company which seems to have mastered these mantras is Ferrero India, makers of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Nutella, Tic-tac and Kinder Joy, a family firm with a progressive & global outlook. Their CEO Roberto Grasso spoke of their success in India as one of the fastest FMCG companies in India.

Now for the two important pillars of Italian industry: Olive Oil and Wine. Michele Bungaro, Director International relations, UNAPROL (Italian Olive Oil Consortium) and Giuseppe Martelli, President National Wine Committee, Italian Ministry of Agriculture, both spoke about the efforts to increase the respective market share in India.

Paolo Bruni, Roberto Grasso, Rakesh Banga, Sumit Saran & Giuseppe Martelli
Paolo Bruni, Roberto Grasso, Rakesh Banga, Sumit Saran & Giuseppe Martelli

Indians love Italian wines whether it is sparkling Prosecco, Franciacorta or Lambrusco; crisp whites from Friuili, Trentino, Alto Adige, Veneto; the DOCG wines of Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Chianti, Amarone, Gavi etc. Even the workshop “The Sweet Taste” ended with a Wine tasting Session conducted by Indian Champion Sommelier, Atul Tiwari and President of National Wine Committee Italy Giuseppe Martelli who is also a renowned Oenologist & Biologist Here is a list of the 8 wines we tried out from different regions of Italy. All these are available in India.

  1. Ti Amo Prosecco DOC
  2. Bepin De Eto Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut
  3. Piccini Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2014
  4. Banfi Le Rime Chardonnay Pinot Grigio Toscana IGT 2014
  5. Planeta La Segreta DOC Sicilia 2014
  6. Piccini Chianti DOCG 2014
  7. Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba DOC 2013
  8. Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo DOC 2014

 

Wine Tasting Session conducted by President of Italian Wine Committee, Giuseppe Martelli, and Indian Champion Sommelier, Atul Tiwari
Wine Tasting Session conducted by President of Italian Wine Committee, Giuseppe Martelli, and Indian Champion Sommelier, Atul Tiwari

It was a befitting end to an educative workshop which left a sweet taste in the mouth of those who attended.

By: Lavina Kharkwal

In the picture Sommelier Atul Tiwari, Italian Trade Commissioner Francesco Pensabene with Chef Diego Martinelli, Lavina Kharkwal with Martino Castellani Deputy Trade Commissioner & Paolo Bruni President CSO
In the picture Sommelier Atul Tiwari, Italian Trade Commissioner Francesco Pensabene with Chef Diego Martinelli, Lavina Kharkwal with Martino Castellani Deputy Trade Commissioner & Paolo Bruni President CSO

 

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