Allegrini 2018

“OperaWine”, finally, in person Italian wine fairs. And, markets are starting up again, too

WineNews interviewed Ferro, president of ICE and Di Stefano, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs at Vinitaly and “Wine Spectator” tasting

After more than 15 months, the wine world has finally been able to open its doors to in person trade with buyers, professionals and wine lovers at “OperaWine”, the famous wine tasting organized by Vinitaly and Wine Spectator. The liberating and long awaited in person event included 186 Italian wine producers selected by the American journal, which is the most influential wine magazine on International markets and has been organizing the event for ten years. The producers met with 300 National and International buyers and professionals from 13 Countries. It was the first important incoming event, organized byVinitalyvand ICE agency. This edition was an extraordinary and anthological edition, held at the Gallerie Mercatali in Verona, the historic-industrial
structure in front of the Fair Grounds, which for this edition has expanded the learn of Italy’s Top 100 to include the all timers; that is, the producers that have been selected more than once over the last 10 years for the Opera Wine event. It will also have an enormous symbolic value as both the president of ICE Agency, Carlo Maria Ferro and the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Manlio di Stefano participated at the opening.

In 2020, the performance of Made in Italy wine & food, in such a challenging situation, was remarkably good. Agro-food exports, Carlo Maria Ferro, president of ICE, told WineNews, grew almost 2 percentage points and Italian wine was a third of the world wide average in the wine sector. These results reflect the quality of our products and are encouraging as well as optimistic for 2021. ICE had already begun a project on digital platforms before the pandemic, aiming to keep the fair activities alive 365 days a year with qualified professionals at the fair ground, therefore also maintaining the commercial and business relationships all year round. These tools were especially useful to guarantee answers when we could not move and meet, and tomorrow, when it will no longer be mandatory, but rather an opinion, they will be used widely to promote and make fairs’s activities known. The partnership with Tannico concerning the development of e-commerce abroad”, continued Carlo Maria Ferro, “is proceeding very well. ICE has organized 28 Made in Italy showcases for trade on International marketplaces, with 7,000 small and medium businesses, and Tannico will be in one of the 14 showcases that will host wine. ICE's plans for the wine sector include, first of all, being alongside all of Vinitaly’s events. In a few months we will be in China, with “Wine to Asia”, while a few monts ago we were in Russia. Then, we will be at “Wine to South America” in Brazil and finally, in October, “Vinitaly Special Edition”, concluded the president of ICE.
“The wine world has demonstrated strong resistance and, compared to our competitors, was able to recover market shares, thanks to the ability of our producers to adapt to the market and the situation”, Manlio di Stefano, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs told WineNews. “The government has guaranteed restarting fairs oh June 15th, which was not to be taken for granted but above all, offered tools to restart exports, which yielded almost six billion euros over eighteen months, allowing wine to conquer new market shares. Regarding promoting Made in Italy products, we are doing very well. We have implemented in-house tools and now we are ready to launch a communication contest involving 26 target Countries, which will promote Made in Italy, not as a stereotype, but rather as an innovation, narrating our Country that is restarting from its traditions, wine and food, but that is also innovative. We must let consumers who buy Italian wine and food know they are buying sustainable products. Our farmers are working to pollute less and sustainability is a fundamental element of our economy”, added Manlio di Stefano, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs.
Optimism regarding the markets has been confirmed by Vinitaly-Nomisma Observatory data, as Giovanni Mantovani, General Manager of Veronafiere told WineNews, “the data we analyzed recently, revealed that Italian wine is doing very well on all the top International markets. There has been an excellent recovery in the United States (+ 26% over all) reversing the negative trend during the first part of the year. This means that Italian wine, at 538 million euros, is above French wine at 534 million euros in the first quarter. There is another reverse trend in the US, as they now prefer Italian and French wines to New World wines. The data is even more encouraging regarding China. Italy has begun double figure growth on a market that is growing exponentially. France is doing better. while Italy’s premium wines are doing very well, and the real surprise is sparkling wines, thanks to Champagne, opening a sector to explore and grow with Italian sparkling wines. Europe”, continued Giovanni Mantovani, “is returning to its past levels, but there are two very important exceptions. One exception is positive, as Switzerland is growing very well, while the other is negative, which is Great Britain that has slowed down as it is trying to find a new equilibrium and has changed many of its regulations. Plus, we must not forget that Australian wine has left the Chinese market, much to our advantage, and it will have to go somewhere, presumably to Great Britain”. Over the next few months the real turning point will be the long awaited “Vinitaly Special Edition”, “which will be an important event because the companies, market trends and health situation will be at normal levels, making it possible for in person events, which everyone will be happier to participate in. Many of the companies at “OperaWine” will be there, too. We are expecting significant numbers, keeping in mind that we will be working just as hard for the normal Vinitaly event, and we expect a lot from foreign markets as well”, conclude the General Manager of Veronafiere.
Maurizio Danese, president of Veronafiere and AEFI — Association of Italian Expositions and Fairs, also commented on the state of the Italian Fairs system.
The Fairs sector is coming out of a very particular moment. In 2020 we worked 53 days, while in 2021 Veronafiere has just started and we opened the first International Fair “OperaWine” with Vinitaly and Wine Spectator, celebrating reopening worldwide International in person wine events. The wine sector is just rising from a very changelling period and we have worked together with the government on non repayable relief funds, following the German model. Several important steps have been taken, but we are waiting for Decrees to make these funds available. As far as the “de minimus” is concerned”, continued Maurizio Danese, “Minister Garavaglia has filed the request to the European Commission and we are now waiting for an answer”. The funds would be available, however, the limit to access them is maximum 10 million euros, which would be fine for all the fairs except for the most important ones that represent 70% of the market. The fairs system would therefore lose 180 million euros as they would only be allowed 40 million euros, because a minor fair would be reimbursed 100% of its losses as they are not over 10 million euros. The future”, continued the president of Vernofiere, “will be physical and digital together. Digital, of course, will not be able to substitute and in person fairs, only accompany it in a future mutual relationship, but it won’t substitute it”.

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