"Italian Sounding": two thirds of USA consumers deceived. A new battle for the Consortium
Based on a survey of the Consortium: 67% of consumers think of products with an Italian origin in association to "Parmesan" packed with elements recalling Italian national symbols. A presentation held in Rome and Brussels to support the TTIP negotiation on the protection of PDO products
Rome, December 11, 2015 - The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium raises the bar in its open battle against "Italian sounding" products in the United States, which is being dealt with in the TTIP negotiations between the EU and the USA.
The Consortium reported this issue to the European Commission - before which the Consortium Director-General, Mr. Riccardo Deserti, spoke just a few months ago - since it is a prejudice for Parmigiano Reggiano with 100,000 tons of products sold in the USA as "Parmesan" with packaging clearly recalling Italy; now, the Consortium can also use the outcomes of a survey (carried out by Aicod) proving that, in addition to the damage to Italian producers, this misleading situation is also prejudicial to US consumers.
There is no doubt in this regard. Indeed, for 66% of US consumers the term "Parmesan" is not generic at all - as argued by the US cheese manufacturers - but identifies a hard cheese with precise geographical origin, which, for 90% of the responders, is undoubtedly Italy. This spontaneous identification was investigated further.
"We showed responders two packs of "Parmesan" made in the USA - explained Mr. Deserti - one of which with no reference to Italy and the other clearly recalling the Italian flag. Even in the former case, 38% of consumers said the product had an Italian origin, but the seriousness of the situation was shown by the pack with “Italian sounding” elements (for instance the Italian flag or Italian monuments and works of art): indeed, in this case, 67% of US consumers believed that it was an authentic Italian product".
"A deceit - emphasized the Consortium President, Mr. Giuseppe Alai - that in the USA affects tens of millions of consumers and amounts to severe prejudice to the increase in our exports and, therefore, to obvious damage also to out producers".
Let’s talk figures: the USA are the third most important country (after Germany and France) for Parmigiano Reggiano exports. Indeed, in 2014, 6,597 tons of Parmigiano Reggiano were exported to the US, accounting for 17.8% of total exports (44,000 tons). In the first eight months of 2015, exports to the US increased by 28.8%, and this growing flow would be boosted sky-high if the quantity of misleading products explicitly recalling Italy were at least reduced.
"The open battle during the TTIP negotiations - said Mr. Alai - is certainly not going to be easy, because the 100,000 tons of products distributed in the USA are illegal pursuant to the EU legislation on PDOs, but are not yet considered as such by the US industry and legislation".
"A turning point in our battle against misleading products recalling Parmigiano Reggiano and Italy - continued Mr. Alai - could very well be this survey (which was presented this morning in Rome, at Aicig (the Italian Association of Geographical Indication Consortia); we are going to present it in Brussels at the beginning of 2016 since it gives strong evidence that US consumers are being deceived by practices that amount to obvious prejudice and damage to our producers, who are the owners of the most counterfeited, imitated and evoked PDO unfairly used for products distributed in the USA".