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“A toast to the future” between restarting, simplification and Europe, between CMO and labels

The reflections of the top management of Federvini and Italian and European institutions, in the midst of Pac negotiations
Out-of-home restart is key for wine and spirits

Awareness of the strength of a sector, that of Italian wine, a world leader, which has suffered (and together with spirits in 2020 lost 1.5 billion euros between the out-of-home crisis and the drop in exports) but on the whole has resisted the impact of Covid, but also of the many difficult challenges awaiting the wine and spirits supply chain, not only on markets trying to overcome the pandemic, but also in terms of regulations, especially in Europe, including new regulations coming up on the labeling of wine and spirits products (where with good certainty there will be the inclusion of nutritional information and not only in dematerialized form, via the internet), but also in terms of promotional resources, which will not disappear but will be difficult to maintain at the same levels seen so far, both in the context of the negotiations on the CAP underway in these hours and in that of the European plan for the fight against cancer, but also in Italy, where the atavistic problem is that of excessive bureaucracy, also due to a simplification that has never really happened. These, in a nutshell, were the topics on the plate for a “Toast to the future”, the theme and message of the Federvini public meeting, which sanctioned the passing of the baton at the head of the federation between Sandro Boscaini, patron of Masi Agricola, one of the griffes of Valpolicella, and Micaela Pallini, at the head of the historic family-owned liquor company, with Albiera Antinori, at the head of one of the most important Italian wine companies, Marchesi Antinori, at the head of the “Wine Group”. The desire, which is obvious, is to look at the restart with optimism.
“The vaccination campaign seems to bear good fruit - said Pallini - only a month ago it was unthinkable to talk about tourism and reopenings, it gives us confidence in the future. The restart of the horeca is strategic, if it is felt the lack not only for consumption, but also because bars and restaurants are places where you make the culture of the product. There is the great theme of simplification, with many reforms often announced and never completed, such as the abolition of the paper band of the state excise mark, now obsolete, or as that, which concerns wine in particular, on the subject of controls, which are important because they provide protection for consumers and businesses, but there are too many and made by too many bodies that do not communicate. There is the dossier of US and EU duties, which has greatly affected our spirits, and although there is a détente we still do not know, as well as it is still not clear, in May, the plan for the promotion of Made in Italy for 2021”.
Fundamental, therefore, the restart of tourism, especially foreign tourism, whose absence in 2020 cost 27 billion euros, and in which Italy is investing a lot also thanks to the food and wine attraction, as recalled by the Minister of Tourism, Massimo Garavaglia, and, more generally, the closeness of the institutions, as witnessed by the greeting sent from Brussels by the Minister of Agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, who pointed out that in the “Decreto Sostegni bis the wine sector has obtained a special consideration. Together with wine and food tourism, it was, in fact, the sector that obtained new resources for a further exemption from contributions for the month of February, after the one provided by previous legislative measures. The sector will also be affected by the measures that will soon be defined thanks to the 300 million euros of the Supply Chain Fund”.
Small signals that give us hope. “We are charged up and ready to start again as never before, after a difficult period like never before - said Albiera Antinori - in which the sector has suffered a great deal, but perhaps less than others. For us, Horeca is fundamental, as is the restarting of tourism in the winery, the ideal place to tell the story of the product, link it to the territory and create that added value which is the real theme on which we must work, because it is true that we are leaders in the world in terms of production and export volumes, and first suppliers in many countries, but our values are not yet as high as they should be. In order to grow further, we need to work both as a country system and as producers, with greater cohesion, in Italy and worldwide, with initiatives that are important and have continuity on the markets. And obviously, we must ask the institutions to protect wine from penalizing issues, such as those regarding labeling, which are being discussed in Europe”.
And, in this sense, to bring fresh news, have been Herbert Dorfmann and Pina Picierno, president and vice president of the “Wine and Spirits Intergroup” of the European Parliament, together with the MEP Paolo De Castro. “We are in the middle of negotiations for the new Pac, we hope to close today, but the wine chapter is more or less closed. And I can say that, on the front of the labels, there will be the indication of calories and ingredients, but both things can be dematerialized, consultable through smartphones and the internet, and it seems to me a great success in a debate that in Brussels has been going on for years. Wine, by the way, will be the first food sector where the label will also be dematerialized, and I think it will be a path taken by other sectors in the years to follow. On the subject of the plan against cancer, among other things, there is a debate on “healt claims” (the warnings like those on cigarette packets that we would like to introduce also on bottles of wine and spirits), but I am very skeptical: abuse, which is to be fought, and not consumption, cannot be solved in this way. Today there is no one who does not know that if you drink you should not drive, or that pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Abuse is not a problem that can be solved with warnings on the label, but through education”.
In any case, the subject is sensitive and is part of the delicate issue of promotion. “We must say with sincerity that the policies of the EU Commission in recent years have not had a positive trend for wine - underlined Pina Picierno - but we must defend a productive fabric and a centuries-old culture. The new strategy against cancer, which is praiseworthy, has an approach that is wrong in proposing some solutions. Wine is singled out as the enemy, and the text, among other things, calls into question consumption and not abuse, as would have been correct, and proposes revisions of regulations, taxes, a reduction in online advertising, a stop to the stimulation of alcohol consumption through programs to promote EU agricultural products. On this point, since wine promotion is part of the CMO, negotiations are underway for a new text. The resources for the promotion of wine should not disappear, but the trend of reduction of investments is under everyone’s eyes, and on this, there is our firm opposition. In Brussels there is a dangerous trend, towards a harsh policy, with blinkers on. The road is long, there is a lot of work to do, but we must defend our wine and those who produce it”.
And this is a job that must be done in Europe, where the issue, which has caused quite a stir, of alcohol-free wine is also being discussed: “There has been a great deal of confusion on this subject - explains Albiera Antinori - it is a subject that needs to be discussed, starting from the question of whether or not alcohol-free wine should be called wine. Certainly, it is a product that comes from grapes, and that will be of interest to consumers, and rules are needed. But about calling it wine there is a question mark. Surely, however, there is no talk of it for DOP and IGP”.

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