A GLOBAL PLAGUE
Parmesan, Romanello, Prosek, Jambon de Parme, Fontiago, and so on: if you are an Italian living abroad or someone travelling often, such words will sadly sound familiar.
These are just some huge examples of how our long-standing Italian food tradition is being “raped” every day all around the world.
I love to strengthen the power of my articles by showing some figures:
900 - 6/10 - 20/2 - 60
- 900% is the growing rate of Italian sounding in the last years.
- 6/10, the ratio of fake Italian products versus total Italian products sold in the world.
- 20/2, the US ratio of fake Italian products versus imported Italian products (expressed in billions $).
- 60 billion dollars, the annual value of Italian sounding. If it was a country, the Italian Sounding would be ranked at 76th position of IMF GDP Ranking 2017, between Costa Rica and Panama.
Does it sound pretty huge, or don’t? Which are the the determining factors related to Italian sounding? In my opinion they are of two types: socio-economic and legislative.
The soccer mom buying groceries, in front of a Raped Parmesan bag at $3.10 and a small piece of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP at $7,20, what do you think she would buy? She will be enthusiastic to save money and her family will be happy to believe they are eating Italian.
Who cares if the Parmesan she bought has been produced in a factory located in Wisconsin or Barranquilla or Beijing? You put an Italian flag and a mustached smiley on the pack and Bob’s (or Tony) is your uncle.
Who cares about the incomparable taste of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, obtained by a long-standing tradition and a super-controlled value chain which starts from the cows’ graze location?
Who cares of the Italian export and image damaging?
The first efforts to fight the Italian sounding and preserve the Made in Italy tag should come by the consumers, but the second one by the governments: the sale of whatever products as Italian and the Italian flag placed or not Italian products should be forbidden, but surely you will agree probably this is not a priority for the world at the moment.
A further step might be joining the mission of Coldiretti, the Italian association for Agriculture, which has been striving for some years with the EC for the indication of origin on food labels. Such initiative is undoubtedly noble and commendable, but I strongly believe that all Coldiretti’s pleas will be useless until the Italy won’t recover its prestige and won’t be able to bring some credible speakers in front of the international institutions.
THE PIZZA OF CONTENTION
For sure, as first effect of these global efforts we may watch the disappearing of “Pizza Calabrese,” calm down, I don’t mean one of the tens of traditional agrifood of the Calabria, and neither the spicy Pizza with Soppressata and N’Duja (two hot Sausage typical of Calabria), one of my favorite.
The Pizza Calabrese I mean is that found in an Australian grocery store by Marco Vitale, CEO and Co-founder of FOODCHAIN SPA, an Italian company whose core business is the blockchain integration, focused but not limited to food and fashion sector. By the way, thanks to my last article, I started a proficient collaboration with these guys.
In 2012, Mr. Vitale was in Perth, and while buying groceries, his attention was grabbed by a frozen pizza, reporting on the box “Pizza Calabrese” along with an Italian flag. Reading carefully the information on the packaging, he was both surprised and repelled in discovering it concerned a pizza with ananas and wurstel made in Australia!! Can you believe it?
This awful experience sparked him the idea it was absolutely needed to find a way to fight food frauds and preserve the Made in Italy. He successfully realized that an excellent way would have been the blockchain so, along with Davide Costa and Fabio Fiori he founded Foodchain Spa. Combining the integration of supply chain processes and data in the blockchain, so in a 100% tamper proof environment, with IoT sensors and a user-friendly mobile app, Foodchain technology can undoubtedly be considered as a powerful and viable way to fight the Italian sounding.
What if we applied this technology to the aforementioned Pizza Calabrese? First of all, a pizza with wurstel and ananas could never be considered as Italian but let’s go over. Figure out to place three IoT sensors: one in the field of the wheat that will be grounded to obtain the flour used for your pizza, one more sensor in the field of the tomatoes will go over and one more in the mozzarella factory. The first information sent to the blockchain by these sensors will be the geo-localization, then the data about crops state, harvest and so on. The blockchain will then receive even every information and document related to transportation, logistics, manufacturing, packaging and delivering. All these information and documents will be finally included in the QR code or tag placed on the package.
Scanning the QR code of the pizza with Foodchain App, Mr Vitale would be able to visualize in real time the detailed story of that Italian supposed pizza, of the raw materials, the manufacturing location and so on, receiving a further confirmation it wasn’t absolutely Italian.
Of course, the fight to Italian sounding is just one of the different use of blockchain and only one of the purpose which drove the foundation of Foodchain Spa.
PINO AND HIS FRIENDS
Back to our beloved Pizza Calabrese. What would Giuseppe Coletti, CEO and co-founder of AUTHENTICO, have done?
He would have scanned the barcode of the product, and the app developed by himself would have given a feedback: not authentic.
But what is Authentico? It’s an interesting and potentially disruptive startup founded by Giuseppe, aka Pino, and a passionate team of food lovers which allows you to know if a product is really Made in Italy or belongs to the Italian Sounding, just by scanning the barcode. One further great feature is the possibility to send a picture of the product, showing the manufacturer and product, directly to the Italian manufacturer, forcely damaged by these kind of food frauds, and so create even a kind of “fake food” database, that may be extremely helpful even for other consumers in the future.
Other interesting features include the possibility to locate the stores selling authentic Italian food and the restaurants proposing authentic Italian cuisine and also read the traditional recipes refereed to the food just bought, to create a 100% authentic Italian dish.
By today, whenever you see an Italian flag on a food product, think to Foodchain Spa or Authentico.
The technology can be a valid supporting partner in fight the Italian sounding plague, but the first step must come from the consumers. If you start to boycott the fake food, slowly it will disappear from the shelfs, so let’s start now.
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