Agri-food

Agri-food

The consumption of safe food, both in terms of hygiene in preparation and preservation, and reliability of origin information and requirements and quality of the same, represents a primary interest of consumers.  
Food falsification, also known as “agropiracy”, can be distinguished in food counterfeiting and trademark counterfeiting:
Food counterfeiting, or adulteration, also known as “quality fraud”, consists in the production or modification of a non natural element because it is composed of substances that are different in terms of quality and quantity from those that normally compose it,  or also because it is modified as a result of the replacement, subtraction and/or addition of the elements it is composed of.
Counterfeiting of trademark, or of the indication of geographical origin or the designation of origin, indicated on the same food product or on its wrapping, is known as “origin fraud”, and consists in the unlawful reproduction of the patent from which the food was produced.
These are offenses that can be very dangerous for consumers’ health, and behind them there are often the interests of criminal enterprises: the rise in the demand for low cost consumer products or basic foodstuffs, in the current economic context, has increate the profit margins of companies operating illegally.
The Italian agricultural and food patrimony is unique in the world for its quality and variety. The Italian gastronomic and agrifood products are famous and appreciated by the consumers of many countries. This popularity has generated the growth of a parallel economy which, by stealing shares from the market of protected products, causes serious damage to the Italian companies. This phenomenon, known as “Italian Sounding”, which is the use of geographical denominations, images and trademarks evoking Italy, for the purpose of promoting and marketing products that have nothing to do with our Country.
In Italy, agricultural food production is governed by strict rules, whose objective is to protect the high quality of the products as well as the health of consumers. Foreign companies which improperly use distinctive signs and informative and promotional descriptions which in some way belong to our country, are adopting market techniques which induce the consumer to believe that their products are of Italian quality,  which in reality is not so, thus competing unfairly in the market and acquiring a competitive advantage with respect to the competition, and not only the Italian one. 
To get a concrete idea of the so-called "agripiracy", in the last five years Guardia di Finanza Units alone seized approximately 39 thousand tons and almost 60 milions litres of food products that are either counterfeit or bear a misleading label about the origin or product quality (see chart below).  
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Source: data G. di F.
Organic products are derived from organic farming, that is without the use of synthetic chemicals in the various phases of cultivation, processing and storage. So in producing organic food, it is prohibited to use herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, coloring agents and preservatives that are not natural or synthetically produced in laboratory.   
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VERTICAL BIO is the operation by which agents of the Guardia di Finanza of Pesaro and the Fraud Suppression Inspectorate, with the cooperation of the State Forestry Corps (a total of about 150 men employed in various Italian regions), dismantled an international criminal association consisting of various individuals that included operators trading in the organic agriculture sector. These people, by exploiting a tested fraud scheme, imported grains from Third Countries  (Moldova, Ukraine, India, etc.), destined to the zootechnical sector, and in some cases to human consumption, (in particular, soy, corn, soft wheat and flax), falsely certified as “organic”, which were then sold to firms of the European Community who were unaware of the scheme.
 

 Links for further information

- guide published by the Ministry of Economic development: IO NON VOGLIO IL FALSO - CONTRAFFAZIONE ALIMENTARE

- Report on counterfeiting on the agrofood sector - COMMISSIONE PARLAMENTARE DI INCHIESTA SUI FENOMENI DELLA CONTRAFFAZIONE E DELLA PIRATERIA IN CAMPO COMMERCIALE - XVI LEGISLATURA

- Italian Food Industry Federation - FEDERALIMENTARE

- How to recognize counterfeit products – more information YAHOO! Finanza