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Exporting agri-food, new opportunities for Italy

Exporting agri-food, new opportunities for Italy

Export agri-food it is proving to be an increasingly attractive opportunity for Italian companies. The 2023 data reveal that Italian agri-food exports have reached a new record, exceeding 62 billion euros. This achievement represents one of the best performances among the world's leading exporters, with a increase in 6%. Only Germany recorded slightly higher growth, with an increase of 6.2%, while France, China and the United States ended the year with negative results.

The growth of Italian exports was mainly supported by the European Union markets (+9%), with significant contributions also from Central and South America (+9%).

Several trade fairs have recently taken place which have confirmed this positive trend. What new opportunities have emerged from these events?

export agri-food


Export agri-food, what is the scenario represented by the latest sector fairs?

Italian agri-food exports continue to grow, driven by several key factors. 

The prestige of Made in Italy undoubtedly plays a vital role, attracting global consumers thanks to its reputation for high quality and authenticity. Furthermore, the growing use of organic products responds to the growing demand for healthy and sustainable foods, further strengthening Italy's position in international markets. 

And this is demonstrated well by two of the most relevant international fairs for this market. 

Gulfood 2024: Italy's presence strengthens in the Middle East

Excellent news for Italian agri-food exports to the Middle East comes from the Italian Pavilion, inaugurated in Gulfood 2024, the main F&B sector trade fair in the United Arab Emirates and throughout the region. Gulfood has become a strategic event for Italian companies, with the participation of as many as 200 local companies.

During the event, the most recent data on the export of made in Italy food and drinks to the Emirates were released, highlighting the great potential of the sector in this country. In November 2023, Italy exported agri-food products worth over 412 million euros, recording a growth of 8.4%, higher than that of Made in Italy as a whole.

The program “Italian Food Lab“. This project aims to educate the local and international market on the organoleptic and health peculiarities of Italian products, counteracting the phenomenon of Italian Sounding.

The Italian Food Lab will also offer the opportunity to support the candidacy of Italian Cuisine as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity, recognizing the value and uniqueness of the country's culinary tradition, and strengthening its positioning as a world leader in the sector agri-food. 

Export agri-food, the scenario presented during Cibus 2024

During Cibus 2024, the reference fair for the agri-food sector held at Fiere di Parma from 7 to 10 May, significant data was presented which shows how between 2013 and 2023 the sector went through a decade of notable development. The growth of Italian exports in the sector it came close to a total value of 64 billion dollars, equal to approximately 10% of European exports.

One of the main themes of this edition was the importance of PDO and PGI products as quality indicators that encourage consumption. PDO and PGI labeling on packages not only increases the general propensity to purchase, but pushes buyers to prefer higher priced products.

One innovation that emerged during the event was the use of artificial intelligence to combat food counterfeiting. For example the Nina project, promoted by the Consortium of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, aims to protect this Italian agri-food excellence from imitations and to combat the phenomenon of Italian sounding.

Sustainability was another key theme of the fair. Sustainable packaging has been identified as crucial, with two out of three Italians considering it decisive in purchasing decisions and one in two seeing it as fundamental to making a product more environmentally friendly.

Antonio Cellie, CEO of Fiere di Parma, reiterated this concept also referring to abroad, stating that “Trends like organic, driven by Generation Z and millennials, continue to grow overseas.” 

This is an important element for companies to consider export agri-food and stand out from competitors.

Particular attention was paid to American market, valued at 1,500 billion dollars considering retail and alcohol, therefore ten times larger than the European one. 

During the conference USA4 Cibus, created in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy, discussed the opportunities for Italian companies to invest in the United States, especially in the era of the Inflation Reduction Act. This program offers large tax credits for projects related to clean energy, also involving the agri-food sector. Also, the program SelectUSA will further facilitate investments in the country by foreign companies.

Caroline Chung, Principal Commercial Officer of the US Consulate General in Milan, highlighted that “No other food influences culture in America and around the world like Italian food. The Italian food industry is globally successful thanks to the quality of its products and the fame it has earned.”

export agri-food


Export of Made in Italy food, which countries are most affected?

Which are the most promising destination countries for companies dealing with export agri-food, beyond the United States?


There Germany, historically Italy's main commercial partner in various sectors, is confirmed as the preferred destination also for agri-food exports. In 2023, sales in Germany exceeded 10 billion euros, recording growth of 7.3% over the last five years. The greatest requests come from the beverage, pasta and baked goods sectors.


There France it is another important market, representing 11% of total Italian agri-food exports and recording growth of 8.7% in the last five years. French consumers mainly demand pasta, baked goods, milk and dairy products.

In addition to European markets, new opportunities are emerging in countries with growing economies.


L'India, which sees a growth in Italian exports of 9.3%, is the world's second largest producer of fruit and vegetables. It offers considerable opportunities in the fields of agricultural machinery and agri-food conservation and transformation processes. In fact, approximately 40% of Indian agricultural production perishes before reaching consumers due to inefficiencies in conservation technologies. This creates space for innovation and efficiency of Italian technologies.


The Vietnam forecasts a growth in agri-food imports from Italy of 10.2% per year until 2028, offering new and significant export opportunities for Italian companies interested in expanding their presence in this particularly dynamic market.

South Korea

Also there South Korea shows promising growth prospects, with an expected increase of 8.4% per year until 2028, thus presenting further expansion possibilities for Italian companies in the agri-food sector.

Octagona offers internationalization strategies for Italian companies, also supporting them in the agri-food export process. Our professionals help companies identify the most promising markets, adapt products to local regulations and develop effective commercial networks. Contact us for more information.



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