By Paul Virgo

04 marzo, 17:35
Italian cheese
Italian cheese
ITALIAN KOSHER, HALAL DELIGHTS SHOWCASED AT CIBUS (ANSA) - Rome, March 4 - Italian cuisine is a worldwide hit thanks the Bel Paese's deep-rooted culinary traditions.

The nation's food producers are successfully building on these foundations by adapting tradition to the demands of the modern world.

This can be seen in many ways, including a recent trend for Italian companies to make their wares via Kosher and Halal processes, so Muslim and Jewish food-lovers can enjoy them.

Those firms will have a chance to showcase these delights to international markets at the 2014 biannual Cibus food trade fair in Parma, the home of Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and arguably the nation's culinary capital.

The 17th Cibus fair, which takes place from May 5 to 8, is devoting special attention to a special certification programme run by the government and food-producer federation Federalimentare with the help of the Italian Jewish Community and the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy.

Buyers at the fair will be provided with special catalogues highlighting the goods that are Kosher and Halal to help further promote an already fast-growing market segment.

Examples of these goodies include mozzarella made by the La Baronia company based at Castel di Sasso near Caserta, the first to win official certification that it is made according to the demands of Islamic law.

In the case of mozzarella, the difference between halal and non halal, or haraam, does not lie in the ingredients, but in the way the cheese is produced.

Alcohol-based chemicals, for example, must not be used in the cleaning of equipment and the end product must carry the date it was produced as well as its use-by date. Trade figures for 2013 released by Federalimentare ahead of Cibus - the Latin word for food - show how important markets in predominantly Muslim countries are becoming for Italian food producers.

In the first 11 months of last year, food exports to the United Arab Emirates grew 27.7%, while they were up 16.9% in Saudi Arabia, 20.7% in Turkey, 42.6% in Libya and a whopping 67% in Algeria.

Last year a 7.1% increase in exports helped compensate for a 2.1 drop in sales on the domestic market in the January-November period.

Sales to Europe were up 4.9% in the first 11 months of 2011, 5.4% higher in the United States, 21.3% up in Russia, 9.7% up in China, 10.5% up in India, 7.2% up in Brazil and 20.5% higher in South Africa. As well as focusing on Halal and Kosher produce, Cibus is also devoting special attention to other fast growing specialist areas, such as organic food, an area where Italy is a world leader, and gluten-food products suitable for coeliacs. For example, Barilla, the world's biggest pasta maker, recently launched a new line of gluten-free pastas.

The "Cibus Bollicine" section, meanwhile, will look at Italian sparking wines and the best eats to combine with these.

"This year we've managed to offer distributors and producers a renewed Cibus fair that is increasingly suited to market demands," said Cibus Brand Manager Elda Ghiretti.

"We've had an excellent response, so much so that we have already booked all of the 130,000 square metres of space (at the Fiere di Parma trade-fair centre) and we have lots of companies on the waiting list". The fair, which is devoted to sector professionals, is particularly proud of that fact that it manages to showcase small- and medium-sized firms that otherwise would have trouble reaching an international audience, as well as big-name brands. Cibus also works to promote Italian food firms between fairs.

Over the last two years Cibus has conducted a campaign called Cibus Market Check, with events in various parts of the world that have enabled dozens of Italian companies to meet foreign buyers and distributors.

A Cibus Market Check is currently taking place in Tokyo.

Many buyers who came to Cibus Market Checks in the United States, Brazil, Russia and Thailand in 2013 and 2014 will be coming to Parma for the main event in May.