Imitations cost Italy some 50 billion euro a year. Approximately three food products out of four sold on the international market as ‘Italian' are, in fact, not Italian.
The Italian Farmer's Union, Coldiretti, recently deplored the phenomenon, arguing that the worldwide sale of fake Italian foods damage the country's high-quality gastronomic image and centuries-long culinary tradition.
Members of the Coldiretti have scoured supermarkets across the world in search of food frauds. Among the many examples, they found white wine called ‘Barbera' in Romania; Chinese cheese, called ‘pecorino,' packaged with the image of a cow and an Italian flag; ‘palenta' (sic) masquerading as polenta; Californian ‘chianti'; Swedish ‘fontina'; and most recently, ‘parmezan' (sic) cheese.
According to Agriculture minister Luca Zaia, what is needed to win the food fight is ‘tougher and more frequent checks to curb rogues, both in Italy and abroad, as well as clear labels and packaging that specify the origin and production standards of Made in Italy products.'