Consumers’ Top Food Demands Are Global
From the CIBUS International Food Exhibition, Parma, Italy – When Americans think of Italian food, what comes to mind?
Well, yes, pizza and spaghetti – at least that’s been the default for years. But as palates have matured and folks have become more savvy about food, I’d argue that for many, Italy means authenticity, tradition, family.
Those are messages that certainly came through loud and clear during booth visits on my first day of attending this week’s CIBUS food show here in northern Italy. And I suspect that’s not only genuine but also intentional, since the audience at CIBUS is largely buyers with retailers, wholesalers and importers from the United States and other countries looking to add authentic Italian food products to their shelves and exclusive private label offerings.
As such, it may be easy for those of us primarily focused on the North American market (and with a love for fine charcuterie, cheeses and other Italian goodies) to forget that Italian food manufacturers must serve a domestic market as well. But, walking the aisles of CIBUS’ eight exhibition halls as part of a trade press delegation hosted by the Italian Trade Agency, I can tell you that consumer demands on Italy’s home front mirror those that U.S. retailers and CPG companies are striving to fulfill.
The CIBUS Innovation Corner corrals the best products from those exhibitors launching SKUs meeting demands for foods that are unique, healthy, convenient, plant-based and free-from everything from common allergens to meat.
From products as simple as microwaveable polenta cups and a cannoli party in a box to squeezable organic pesto to quinoa burgers to coffee-flavored pasta, Italian food marketers offer a steady stream of innovative, on-trend products for their domestic retail partners.
Meanwhile, the fine tradition of Italian food rings out loud and clear.
An example is ‘nduja (pictured right), a spicy spreadable pork-based salami popular in Italy for decades that’s starting to make inroads elsewhere, made by companies like Salumificia Falcone. Another is taralli – small, round, crunchy snacks (pictured below) offered in a host of savory flavors (including curcumin, which has been getting press as a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient) as well as new sweet ones, making them suitable for anytime snacking, made by companies like Cristino Snacks and Saporeat.
Then there’s the Antonellis – father, mother and daughter – who run L’Angelo Della Fruita, which makes, among its product lineup, a series of grappa-soaked fruit suitable for a variety of cooking and mealtime uses.
Mondo di Laura offers a line of handmade, dairy-free cookies already sold in some U.S. specialty stores. Soft drink maker Neri honors its past with Chin8, a traditional Italian soda. Oranfrizer takes pride in its multigenerational citrus plantation in Sicily that supplies Italian supermarkets with luxurious blood oranges, mandarins and pomegranates, as well as their respective juices.
The list goes on, and I intend to visit more of these amazing companies as CIBUS continues to unfold this week.
In some ways, CIBUS is like visiting your grandma’s house – she’s always giving you more to eat, it’s all delicious and it’s delivered with love. And like Grandma helping to feed her family, CIBUS is helping Italy feed its families, along with the world.