What is Made in Italy

According to a market analysis conducted by KPMG, “Made in Italy” is the third most known merchandise mark worldwide, following Coca-Cola and Visa.

What is the meaning of “Made in Italy” in legal terms ?

Law 135, Art. 16 of 25th September 2009 - Parliament of Italy stated: “Goods classifiable as Made in Italy, must have been designed, processed and packaged exclusively in the Italian territory.”

The European Regulation No. 952/2013, Art. 60 of 9th October 2013 issued by European Parliament and Council stated: “ Good that were entirely produced in a specific country or territory are considered hailing from that country or that territory. Goods whose production involved more than one country shall be deemed to be hailing from the country where they underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working in a factory equipped for that purpose. The result of this process must be a new product or this process must represent an important stage of manufacture.”

We can deduce that, under a legal perspective, “Made in Italy” is an indication of origin applicable to those goods which underwent their last, substantial, economically justified transformation in the Italian territory.

Nowadays, oppositely to what happens in the textile, shoe and leather industries, in which it is expected a compulsory labeling system which displays the place of origin for each step of manifacturing, in the agricultural industry this labeling requirement is not expected for each product. The only exception is represented by some specific foodstuffs, when the destination country, according to its regulations, ask for it, like Canada, USA, China etc.

In brief, the regulations affirm that the Italian (or European) producer is not compelled to indicate the origin of products to the consumer, only if there are no indications or signs, which can deceive the consumer about the real origin of products, according to the European Regulation No. 1169/2011 Art. 26, Par. 2 A) of 25th October 2011 issued by European Parliament and Council. If the producer indicates the origin, this must follow the origin regulations according to the European Regulation. If the good displays on the label the indication “Made in Italy” but it is devoid of the requirements, the producer will be punishable according to the law and goods will be impounded and possibly destroyed.

Globally, the situation is unfortunately worse. In Unisted States, for example, the FTC (Federal Trade Comission) Standards does not require to declare the indication of origin in food & beverage products (only for automotive, textile wool and fur sectors there is this requirement). The fact that American food producers can use distinctive Italian names and signs in their products together with the fact that they can not declare the origin of the products gives a sort of unfair competitive advantage to them: it is unfair because consumers will buy products manufactured in a very different way (compared with the original) probably with an unfair price. A survey of Coldiretti, showed that in 2015 99% of "Italian" cheeses in the US market appeared to be imitations (2228 million kilograms of the product in 2014, of which 79% are mozzarella). If the US is "leader" in the falsification of the cheeses, the imitations are found in many other markets such as Australia, South America, emerging countries and even in the European countries themselves.

This legal gap and the reputation of the “Made in Italy” indication caused an important phenomenon of forgeries of Italian food products, which is called “Italian Sounding”.This phenomenon has increased year by year thanks to the high reputation and the interest for the italian products, due to their quality, elegance, design and innovation.

“Made in Italy” was historically used by italian producers from the 1980s to contrast the forgery of their products, especially in sectors like fashion, food & beverage, furniture and mechanical.The 4 sectors mentioned above are commonly known in Italian as “ the 4A”: Abbigliamento (clothes), Agroalimentare (food), Arredamento (furniture) and Automotive (automobiles).

Since 1999, “Made in Italy” has begun to be protected by associations such as ITPI (Institute for the Protection of the Italian Manufacturers) and regulated by the national and international laws, but the legal gaps don't permit to protect sufficiently these products from the unfair competition.

Despite the problem of the Italian Sounding, in 2015, the value of exports of Made in Italy products amounted to 400 billion euros. The main importer of “Made in Italy” products was Germany, in which there were exported goods for an amount of 30,3 billion euros; then there were France (27,7 billions), USA (24,6 billions), UK (14,8 billions), Spain (11,2 billions) and Switzerland (11 billions).

Among the main export sectors of Made in Italy the Food & Beverage sector with its value of 36,6 billion euros plays a relevant role and it is undeniably a fundamental ambassador of “Made in Italy” in the world. The success of the “Made in Italy” in the agricultural sector, which had a relevant increase of 79% in the last ten years, is due to the important agricultural patrimony of Italy, which is one of the most variegated and famous in the world: In 2015 Italy has been confirmed worldwide leader with an extraordinary number of certifications: 805 products (282 food and 523 wines) registered in the EU register (data of 10 February 2016) and divided into 569 DOP, 234 IGP and 2 STG. Thus Italy triumphs over France (658), Spain (318), Greece (250) and Portugal (173). It is exactly this enormous patrimony which generates the interest of the international markets: the 50% of the 14 billion euros gained in 2015 with “Made in Italy” products were exported out of Italy. The most exported agricultural products in 2015 are: wine (5,5 billion euros), fresh fruit and vegetables (4,4 billion euros), pasta (2,4 billion euros), cheeses (2,3 billion euros) and tomatoes conserves (1,5 billion euros).It is interessant to notice that in the last years this sector is including new products such as beer and “Made in Italy” caviar.

According to another KPMG study, the Added Value of Food & Beverage sector in Italy is more than the Added Value of Automotive sector of France and Spain together.

The historian Carlo Maria Cipolla referring to the Renaissance observed that: “Italians were able to produce things that were appreciated in the world using their entrepreneurial attitude, hard-working attitude and their workshops. In brief they were able to add value to raw materials, even if they lacked in raw materials”...this can be considered one of the most current “Made in Italy” definition.
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