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Food and beverage market in Italy

There are signs that Italy's dairy market is on the road to recovery, with rising prices driving rising production. But Italian farmers continue to feel under pressure and have joined recent protests to demand more action from the EU to support farmgate prices. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos' proposals to reform the dairy market are due in December and will be watched closely by Italian farmers. The EU is also in talks with Mercosur over a possible free-trade deal - one which is looking increasingly likely to materialise. We believe the agreement, which will face fierce opposition from the EU agricultural lobby, could have a damaging effect on Italian meat production.

Key Views

- Wheat prices are on the rise again and we expect this to lead to an increase in area planted to wheat. For 2010/11 we forecast wheat production to come in at 7.49mn tonnes, up 18.1% year-on-year (y-oy).
- Barley expected to suffer as farmers switch to wheat. We expect production to come in at 982,000 tonnes, down 6.4% y-o-y.
- If an FTA with Mercosur is in place by 2012, poultry and beef production will likely take a hit. In 2015, we now expect poultry production to have reached 1.44mn tonnes. Beef to fall to 993,000 tonnes in 2015, down 5.51% over the forecast period.
- A more optimistic estimate from Eurostat in milk production in 2009 has prompted us to revise our 2010 estimate upwards. We now put production at 10.57mn tonnes, up around 85,000 tonnes on last quarter. In 2011, we expect to see production rise to 10.65mn tonnes, up 0.71% as demand improves with the recovering economy.
- We are forecasting 2015 cheese production to reach 1.26mn tonnes, growth of 5.7% over our forecast period. Output should be supported by economic recovery and expansion into export markets such as Russia.

Industry developments

A libertarian farmer who decided to test the legalities of genetically modified (GM) corn by planting a field of the crop has fallen foul of the law. A court in Pordenone imposed a EUR25,000 fine on Giorgio Fidenato and ordered him to destroy the plants. The judgment shows the prevailing wind remains against GM in Italy. Our current expectation is that GM maize - and other biotech crops - will not come under significant cultivation within our forecast period to 2015.

On October 20, Italian dairy farmers were among about 1,200 European producers who descended on Strasbourg to urge a change of direction in EU policy. They claimed the EU had done nothing to alleviate the milk crisis which came to a head in 2009. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos is due to present his recommendations on reforming the dairy market in December, though farmers are unlikely to get the level of market intervention they want, with the European Commission (EC) committed to liberalisation. The EC is considering relaxing the rules on feeding animals to animals. The proposals, should they be implemented, will have positive effects for the livestock industry across the EU. At a time when feed costs are starting to rise in response to soaring grain prices, allowing certain types of animal feed should help to push margins back in the right direction.

by S. C.
11 december 2010, World News > Italy