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Allegrini 2018
ANALYSES

Italian wine & food, solid and growing sector. Also thanks to the many family businesses

The “Food Industry Monitor 2022” by University of Pollenzo and Ceresio Investors. Carlo Petrini: "But now we need a paradigm shift”

The Italian wine & food sector is solid, also thanks to a strong recovery in 2021. Which looks to 2022-2023 that will still be growing, well beyond the average of the national economy. Even if it is a growth that, in absolute terms, likely will be undermined by galloping inflation. In a sector, that of wine and food production, where family-run companies continue to perform better than average. And they continue to invest in sustainability, a real challenge for the future, and in that change of the paradigm that the founder of Slow Food, Carlin Petrini, has been preaching for years, “based not on consumption and profit as the only parameter, but on the economy of relationships, and on the awareness that the resources are not infinite” that young people who are building the entrepreneurship of the 21st century will be able to realize, but in which we are all invited to participate. The message that comes from the presentation of the “Food Industry Monitor 2022”, created by the University of Pollenzo, together with Ceresio Investors. The numbers, illustrated by Carmine Garzia of the University of Pollenzo, and based on the analysis of the financial statements of 852 companies in the sector, which represent 75% of the sector's joint-stock companies, with an aggregate turnover of 65 billion euros (and that produce dairy products, oils, fresh and dry pasta, meat and derivatives, frozen foods, wine, mineral waters, beer, coffee, preserves, spirits, sweets and baked goods, flours, food equipment and packaging), confirm that 2021 marked a strong recovery in the food sector, with record growth of 6.8%, higher than the GDP growth (6.6%). A growth that will continue into 2022 and 2023 with rates around 4% per year, more than double the GDP, according to current estimates. According to projections, the segments that will grow the most will be flour + 11.4%, coffee + 10%, oil + 9.7%, milk +7.7, frozen foods + 5.4%, while wine, expected to + 4.8%, is just below the average, followed by spirits, water, sweets, cured meats, beer and pasta. “But it is a growth linked to the translation of the rising prices of raw materials on the final prices- explains Carmine Garzia of the University of Pollenzo - which, for many products, affect the consumer price by more than 60%, and therefore we need to understand till when the production, which in many cases already has low margins, will be able to absorb them or will have to pass them on to the consumer, who, however, sees his purchasing power decrease at the same time”.
This is not an easy situation, therefore, also because the increase in agricultural raw materials, such as corn and wheat, is not due to a shortage of products but by the fact that many, because of the fear of the consequences of war, are making provisions, and in addition, there is also the weight of speculation. As always, the strongest growth will be in exports: if the sector in 2021 made + 10% on a flat 2020, things will continue to grow, between 3% and 4%, also in 2022 and 2023, with the most dynamic sectors that will be spirits, beer, milk and soft drinks, but also wine and pasta. Again, looking at the economic fundamentals, it emerges that the average profitability of food companies is higher than the average of Italian companies, the added value of food (21.5%) is slightly lower than the national average (21.9%), while the rate of debt of companies in the food sector stood at 2.3 in 2020, a figure that is structurally lower than the average for Italian companies, which stood at 2.5.
A fundamental driver for growth will be sustainability, at 360 degrees. And in this sense, the analysis of the sustainability performance of the Food Industry Monitor 2022 shows that 98% of companies use all or part of raw materials with a reduced environmental impact. 88% of companies use packaging with reduced environmental impact exclusively or mainly. 57% of companies have obtained one or more certifications relating to environmental sustainability and 30% of companies have published a sustainability report, on average for at least three years. A particular focus was then dedicated to family businesses (to represent wine, on stage, as a case history, Arturo Ziliani, who leads the Franciacorta winery, Berlucchi, together with the brothers Paolo and Cristina, ed).
Family businesses that have a predominant role in the food sector. 78% of the companies of the sample are controlled by one or more families. 86% of family businesses have a board of directors entirely made up of family members, 11% are characterized by a mixed composition of the board, which includes members external and internal to the family; 3% of family businesses have a board of directors made up entirely of members outside the family. Only 8% of the companies analyzed have a CEO outside the family. From the analysis, it also emerges that the food sector is mainly made up of “young” entrepreneurial companies, 65% of companies are currently managed by the first generation, 30% by the second generation and the remaining 4.5% by the third and fourth generation. Furthermore, it emerges that companies with a family guide have recorded higher profitability and productivity performances than those with an external CEO. The choice of management teams with family members, alongside professional managers, allows companies to obtain better profitability performances and above all to build a more solid sustainability profile. For all companies, as told, on stage by the leaders of companies in the sector and finance such as Balocco, Gruppo Seda, Farchioni, Fiorentini, Don Alfonso 1890, Lavazza, XtraWine, Ceresio Investors and Berlucchi, today's challenge is to continue to create value navigating between lack of raw materials that slow down orders and the market, and inflation that increases costs, especially energy, and slows down consumption. But the challenge of an imminent tomorrow is that of a total change of paradigm, which can start from family businesses, as recalled, at the closing part, by the founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini. “Relationship assets, and not just balance sheets in order, hold these companies together. The parameter of a company’s well-being cannot be just profit, which is also fundamental. We need to change the paradigm. Today there are 900 million malnourished people in the world, 40 million suffer from hunger, 1.5 billion suffer from overnutrition. It is not a system that works. We must prepare for change, starting from the ethical element. Small businesses must guarantee a value aspect that one has in the company, which is the link with one’s own history, and with the reality in which one lives, with collaborators. And this bond, however, will be undermined if we do not change the rules of the game, and if we only look at profit. We must start from a concept of the exhaustion of resources - continues Petrini - which requires changes in values and behavior. Let’s look at how they know to recycle and reuse back in fashion, which we had abandoned. And this change must not be seen as a mortification but as a liberation. Here, in Pollenzo, where so many young people come to study, I see many young people who bring into life ideas, projects, and reasoning on a change of paradigm to write their future, even as entrepreneurs. And this creativity must not be mortified, we must not turn off the light in their eyes. Because if the paradigms they will rewrite become tangible, we will be facing the new entrepreneurship of the 21st century”.

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