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THE SCENARIO

Simplifications, European battles on wine and health, and more: Federvini’s priorities

Positive sentiment for the sector, but the future, between inflation and war, worries everyone. From businesses to institutions

The sentiment, so far, is positive, for the wine world, with markets that have held up mainly to exports, have picked up in the away-from-home sector, with a first four-month period just below 2019 levels, while the large-scale retail sector marks an almost physiological retreat (-9%) after the 2020 and 2021 booms, but still on pre-pandemic levels. But the rising costs of raw materials and logistics that will be passed on, at least in part, to consumers, who like businesses are reckoning with inflation and lower purchasing power, as well as a lackluster “mood” aspect also linked to the war between Russia and Ukraine, do not leave the sector calm. Which, now more than ever, calls for structural interventions from the policy on the front of simplification, promotion and beyond. In some cases, getting answers and promises, such as those announced by, among others, the Minister of Public Administration and wine producer in the Rome DOC, with the Capizzucchi winery, Renato Brunetta, who, urged by Federvini, at a general assembly today in Rome, pledged to achieve concrete, zero-cost goals, “such as linking the wine file with the dematerialized winery register, which would greatly simplify things at harvest time”, and a measure that, for example, “provides for agreed-upon controls, scheduled with the state, which has its own needs for ordinary periodic checks-and I am not of course talking about those on criminal and security activities, which must be done when necessary-but those related to environment, security, tax audits, which will no longer be random or fall on the heads of companies twice a day, three times a week, some times to acquire data that perhaps the Administration already has, but will be compulsorily agreed, scheduled and shared, for a public administration that, in every field, must have a different relationship with businesses and citizens”. News that could be operational as early as October 2022. And which please Federvini, led by Micaela Pallini, and which at the head of the Wine Group sees Albiera Antinori, at the helm of Marchesi Antinori, a historic and prestigious Italian wine company, who said, “the positive post-pandemic rebound has been there, but the numbers show cracks and creaks, mixed with clouds on the horizon that worry. It is difficult to make long-term forecasts; in recent years, beyond strategic vision, we have learned that things change rapidly. Italian wine must improve in quality and value over the long term, but today we must work on structural changes that will allow us to be more resilient and responsive to external factors. The simplifications announced by Minister Brunetta are appreciable, although they should already be a reality in 2022, but in any case when they arrive they will solve problems and lower some costs”. Another issue to work on, according to Albiera Antinori (who, in this regard, got a positive response from MEP Paolo De Castro, connected from Brussels), is that of “Italy-on-foreign” taxation. “Even today, if a tourist comes to a winery in Italy and buys wine directly, or via e-commerce, to ship it to him, one must have a tax deposit in his country, with complexities and costs that differ from state to state. Italy in Brussels needs to push on this path of simplification or harmonization, to allow us to fully exploit a relatively new but increasingly important trade channel. And then there is the issue of promotion, on which we need to improve and be more incisive. Also on the wine tourism front”.
Vision with which the Undersecretary for Agricultural Policies, Gian Marco Centinaio agrees: “I think we have an enterprise system that is up to the situation, the data on agrifood exports 2021 are there for all to see, record 52 billion in the midst of the pandemic. Institutions must better accompany enterprises. Ice is doing a great job, but the objection can be made is that it accompanies large enterprises, not SMEs, so why not think about Chambers of Commerce Abroad, to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. A lot is being done, but certainly much more can be done. I also wanted to invest strongly in Italy-on-Italy promotion, we have made available 25 million euros for Consortia, with 90 percent coverage of expenses, there is room to grow. Also to take different consumers than in the past, starting with young people: many, still, do not know wine”. But there are so many games being played in the EU, as De Castro said again, “there is the reform of Geographical Indications for which I am rapporteur, which is a great opportunity for a new single text that is an opportunity to strengthen protections. And which will perhaps definitively resolve issues similar to the Prosek issue, for example”.
But there is also the issue of the relationship between wine and health, for example. And if Italian wine has dodged the risk of seeing labels like those on cigarettes in the work done on the “Beating Cancer Plan”, attention remains high, because, for example, in Europe there is reasoning about a tax reform on excise taxes, where there are those who are pushing for the minimum level on wine to be raised, which today starts at zero (as is the case in Italy), but which they would like to bring up to positive by default. Which, some say, rather than on direct accounts, would impact with an additional bureaucratic burden that is not felt to be necessary. “But we will work on this too, because from time to time it has to be understood what the benefits of a measure are compared to the damage to different sectors and to the country system”, reassured Undersecretary for European Affairs Vincenzo Amendola. And on the subject of the relationship between wine and health, the statements of the Undersecretary for Health, Andrea Costa, commenting on Tradelab by Federvini data, which testified once again that the vast majority of wine consumption in Italy is linked to the Mediterranean model and moderation, sound positive: “it is a comforting scenario, it emerges with all evidence that in Italy on the conscious consumption of wine and alcohol we are far ahead, and this with the contribution of everyone, the presence of the Ministry of Health today shows that we have a goal, which is to say no to ideological or wall-to-wall approaches. We need to invest in education, in a different cultural formation”.
However, if these are challenges for the future, more remote or nearer, such as those, for example, on genetics and resistant vines in the appellations, as pointed out by the President of the Agriculture Commission at the Camerano Deputies, Filippo Gallinella, who also recalled how, soon, the “state stamp” will arrive for the certification of sustainability according to the single national standard with which Italy is the first EU country to equip itself, the immediate problem, as also recalled by the president of Federvini, Micaela Pallini, is related to raw material inflation. “The demand for Italian wine abroad is very high, but the risk is that we will not be able to supply our products due to lack of materials, and also that prices will increase too much”, stressing, moreover, how the war scenario imposes the “courage to rethink some choices, even to bring back some productions to Italy and protect some supply chains”, such as, for example, that of glass and bottles. However, on many issues, Italy cannot play alone, but Europe must move, as the Minister of Agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, said in connection. “The 2022 figures speak of growth exceeding all expectations, but this is threatened by a conflict for which it is difficult to calculate the long-term effects. However, no European country can face this umpteenth crisis alone; we need a common solution at the European level, as was done for energy. We need to bring to the EU our strategic vision of our agri-food sector”.kj7 Of which wine is one of the most important pillars.

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