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Made in Italy agri-food exports broke records, while overall, Italy is a net importer

Trade balance registered at -899 million euros. Wine and grain derivatives were positive, while especially fish, cereals and fresh meat were negative

In spite of inflation, tensions and wars, Italian agri-food exports reached a new record in 2023, achieving more than 64 billion euros, registering +5.7% growth compared to 2022. This is quite an important result, as it increases the ambition of reaching 100 billion euros, in the medium term, as Massimiliano Giansanti, president of the Italian agriculture organization, Confagricoltura, stated. In the meantime, though, Italy is a net importer, since the total of agri-food products imported is more than 65 billion euros, and growth + 5.4%, compared to 2022. The trade balance, therefore, has slightly worsened, as the deficit in 2023 stood at 889 million euros, 126 million euros less than the previous year. Italian exports increased on all the main products, except for bottled wines, which, following excellent results in 2022, registered a decrease in the value of shipments to 5.1 billion euros (-2.7%, ), out of the total wine production amounting to 7.7 billion euros. Sparkling wines, instead, stood out in growth (+3.3% in value), as the Institute of services for agro-food markets, ISMEA, pointed out. Wine is firmly in first place among exported products, counting 7.9% of the total, and it also has the best positive trade balance, at 7.19 billion euros, compared to just 574 million euros in imports. Among other important sectors registering a positive trade balance were exports of grain derivatives (9.2 billion euros), increasing + 8%, driven primarily by bakery and pastry products (+12%), more than by pasta (+1.3%), totaling a positive trade balance of 7 billion euros. In terms of export growth, fresh fruit and vegetables did even better (+9.1%), as well as processed fruit and vegetables (+10.9%), cheeses and dairy products (+11.6%) and olive oil ( +14%).
Imports, in line with Italy’s role as a transforming Country in the agri-food sector, on the whole are related to unprocessed raw materials and semi-finished products. The main products are non roasted coffee, extra virgin olive oil, corn, live cattle, hams and fresh pork shoulders intended for processing, common wheat and durum wheat. Among these, we noted an exceptional growth of live cattle, pork and durum wheat. On the contrary, imports of non roasted coffee, corn and common wheat are decreasing in value.
Looking at the worst negative trade balances, the sectors in which Italy imports much more than it exports are the fish sector (-6.4 billion euros), then grains (-4.8 billion euros), followed by fresh meat (-4.5 billion euros).
The main destination market for Italian agri-food products is the European Union, which, at 41.9 billion euros in 2023, absorbed 65% of our exports. Germany, France, and the United States are the most important partners, and the first two countries are growing the most. Among the top 20 destination Countries, just two Countries, Canada and the Czech Republic, went against the trend - though they have a marginal role, jointly representing only 3.2% of the total National exports. The geographical concentration of our exports has been confirmed, while the top five destination Countries alone account for almost half of the total flows. The European Union is Italy's main trading partner for imports as well (46 billion euros in 2023) and 71% share. Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands are the main suppliers, while in the third Countries, the first supplier is Brazil, even though imports from Brazil decreased in 2022.

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