The demand for Italian agri-food products in foreign markets is robust, showing consistent increased growth and market penetration with the rising popularity of  global food culture, and an increased focus on good-quality, healthy and eco-conscious products: it is no surprise that the world looks to Italy to fill its growing quest for the highest quality ingredients.

The universal appeal is readily apparent, whether through the popularity of the modern celebrity-chef and food-focused television programs, or through the more serene and peaceful enjoyment of sharing life's gustatory pleasures with family and friends.These days, fine food has become more widely sought after from both within and outside our homes. It is essential to the moment, transcendental in reflection, as ultimately, food is an expression of lifestyle.

The increased consumer demand for access to better food is undeniable and, as expectations become more particular, the power of Italian cuisine will continue to be called upon for its delicacy and wide variety of products and centuries-old recipes. The rich and diverse micro-climates of the country's many regions and the high-quality raw ingredients have helped establish Italy as the most approachable and identifiable ethnic cuisine across the globe. Furthermore, the various regional authenticating designations such as PGI, DOC, DOCG and, PDO, combined with the oversight of the Italian national security agencies, will help to ensure the authentication and integrity of the products, boosting consumer confidence and trust.

Notwithstanding the positive scenario, Italian small and medium enterprises, ("SMEs"), are not able to take advantage of the opportunities in the international market due to structural and systemic barriers.

The inability to scale, limited financial resources or know-how, and lack of logistics support are some of the biggest impediments SMEs face. Not only do these issues keep wonderful Italian products from gaining  the global recognition and audience they deserve, but it keeps these companies from enjoying the benefit of growth through the export market. Admittedly, there are many hurdles and obstacles that impede the importation process of Italian food products abroad. Namely, there's a  lack of product knowledge, difficulty in gathering a varied portfolio of products; trouble in financing an export operations; and last but not least, the burden of dealing with customs regulations and documentation.

This is IF&B's challenge!