Italian pasta a superstar exports +5%

Italian pasta a superstar exports +5%

18 February 2013 Off By Pastaria

Exports +5% in the first 9 months of 2013.

by Centro studi economici Pastaria

The list of export markets for Italian pasta continues to grow. According to the latest figures for 2013 published by ISTAT, the Italian National Institute of Statistics, there are over 180, with the hard core remaining European countries, followed by North America and East Asia, areas in which the situation would seem less-bright than in the past, however.

Two aspects emerge from ISTAT data, updated to end-September 2013. The first is the healthy expansion of export sales which increased in volume by 5.4% and nearly four percentage points in monetary terms compared with the first nine months of 2012.

The other, and perhaps more significant one, is the gradual but progressive change in the geographical distribution of exports of pasta made in Italy. The relative weight of the European Union, although still dominant, decreased to 67% (of total foreign exports). But at the same time, the share of non-EU European countries increased, thanks above all to the driving force of Russia. Overall, this group of countries—which includes the important Swiss market—has reached 6.4% in terms of relative weight, nearly that of the East Asian block of nations (6.9%). However, it should be noted that in this “emerging” area of the globe, surprisingly pasta exports are showing a worrying decrease, basically due to a drop in the presence of the only country with a mature economy, Japan, and significant, but not thrilling growth in the promising and hyper-active Chinese market.

But if we look at growth performance rather than market share, two other interesting elements emerge from the analysis. First of all, the (increasingly) solid tie with the Middle East, another strategic market for Italian pasta producers, with Israel remaining no. 1 among countries in this area. But another driver is Latin America thanks to healthy Brazilian demand which jumped to a generous 16,000 tons, and renewed vigor from Venezuela which, following the abrupt halt in 2012, has begun to purchase heavily once again (interest from Italian emigrants remains the largest factor in stimulating local demand), reaching more than 10,000 tons of Italian pasta.

The role of countries in Oceania remains marginal. While Australia, which continues a sort of lackluster growth, has maintained at least a significant standing in the ranking of destination markets, in 14th place, New Zealand remains in the shade, with import volumes even lower than such small-size nations as Kuwait or Montenegro.

In terms of overall numbers, the Pastaria forecasts based on ISTAT data put pasta exports at just under 1.5 million tons. More precisely, between January and September 2013, foreign exports amounted to 1.467 million tons, up (as noted above) 5.4%. In monetary value, the enormous flow of foreign sales, amounting to more than half of Italian pasta production resulted in billings of just under 1.6 billion euros (+3.8% over January-September 2012), with one billion represented by the market of EU countries, and the rest by non-EU nations, with pride-of-place going to the USA/Japan/Russia triumvirate.

Germany, the largest export market, continued to play a decisive role, increasing the volume of purchases from Italy by 3%. A bit scantier the French performance (+1.7%), with the UK only marginal, where growth did not exceed 0.8%.

Also negligible the US, up just 0.7%, mirroring the disappointing figures from across the Channel. But creating the greatest impact on exports was, above all, the collapse in exports to Japan which, in a year, dropped by nearly 13% in volume terms.

It must be noted that, counter-balancing this sluggish performance (in terms of absolute value, losses were nearly 9,000 tons), exports to The Netherlands were very strong (+9%) and, specially to Russia with, in nine months, an amazing growth of 25.6%. These two European countries more than made up for the losses from Japan, absorbing 11,000 more than tons of pasta compared with 2012.

Considerable progress was also seen in Sweden, Belgium and Spain, although less-evident than the double-digit figures seen in other equally-significant countries such as Canada and the Czech Republic.

Among emerging countries, in addition to the leap registered from Moscow, positive figures also arrived from Brazil (+13% in volume) and the generous 17% growth rate from China, but where volumes remain limited nonetheless, under 8,000 tons, compared with the 16,000 tons of Brazil and 38,000 of Russia.

Still looking at exports, the analysis of regional data provided by ISTAT is also interesting. Although the no. 1 leader in pasta exports is the Campania region with foreign billings of over 270 million euros through the and of September, the figures show that it was the regions of the north of Italy that provided the driving force, which together accounted for 53% of foreign billings. Key were the three top regions: Emilia Romagna, Veneto and Lombardy. In the south, in addition to Campania, also significant were exports from the Apulia region. In central Italy, fueling foreign sales were Abruzzo and Tuscany, followed at some distance by Molise.

Also of note, the decent standing of Piedmont, the seventh region immediately after Apulia, in terms of pasta exports. Disappointing, on the other hand, the figures from Sicily, which is somewhat behind in terms of exports, preceded by regions less-famous for pasta production, such as Trentino Alto Adige. The same is also true for the Marches and Basilicata, neither of which take full advantage of their potential.

In terms of the developments in 2013, the regions pushing ahead were, above all, Veneto and Campania, with growth rates of 9% and 8.5% respectively, compared with the first nine months of 2012. Exports from Tuscany and Emilia Romagna were also up, while a slow-down was seen for Lombardy, Sicily and Basilicata.

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