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Frozen food registers 6.9% increase; potatoes and fish leading gainers.

Frozen Food Registers 6.9% Increase; Potatoes and Fish Leading Gainers

Frozen food consumption in Italy continued to show a healthy growth rate last year, with an overall increase of 6.9% to 380,300 tons, vs. 343,950 in 1989.

But there were dramatic contrasts in the breakdown of the Italian QFF market, with potato products showing a double-digit increase, while meat and poultry consumption actually declined.

The retail sector increased at a slightly higher rate than the catering market. Retail consumption was up 7.1% to 242,270 tons, while catering advanced 6.7% to 138,030. Retail sales now account for nearly two thirds of all frozen food consumption.

Vegetables remain the single largest component of the Italian QFF market, and are growing slightly faster than the total: up 7.1% last year to 193,750 tons. Most of the volume is in single (147,410) and mixed (44,440) raw vegetables, but the small prepared category more than tripled to 1,900 tons. Italy is a major exporter of frozen vegetables - spinach, green beans, broccoli and asparagus - but also imports peas.

Potato products showed an overall 11.3% increase last year, to 57,450 tons, up from 45,600. Most of the volume, 52,900, was in french fries. Although the Istituto Italiano Alimenti Surgelati (Italian Frozen Food Institute) cited the importance of "innovative products" in this category, the 4,550 tons for items other than french fries represented hardly any increase. More significant, perhaps, was the fact that while catering (31,100 tons) still led retail (26,350) in potato products, the retail growth was 14.6%, vs. 8.7% for catering.

Fish, which is mostly imported, accounted for 46,120 tons last year, up 9.4%. The category broke down into 17,100 tons raw, 16,470 tons breaded, 12,350 tons battered and 200 tons prepared. Seafood and molluscs, a fairly small category, showed the fastest category increase of all - up 17.7% to 8,120 tons. Fish and seafood had suffered a slowdown in the 1980s after a highly publicized contamination scare, but now seem to be permanently back on track.

Frozen meat just can't compete with traditional butchers, the Institute says. Anyway, frozen meat consumption was off 4.6% to 11,400 tons. Poultry didn't do much better, with consumption down 0.9% to 11,650 tons. Pasta dishes showed a tiny 0.8% increase, to 13,100 tons, in domestic consumption - but since Italy exports a number of specialties like cannelloni and lasagne, that doesn't necessarily mean the industry is in the doldrums. The same goes for pizza, in which domestic consumption of frozen versions was up only marginally to 8,920 tons.

Overall value of food imports by Italy last year totaled 20.3 trillion lire, down 4.1% from 21.2 trillion in 1989; while exports were up 5.8% from 9.9 to 10.5 trillion lire. Exports of agricultural produce, presumably vegetables, accounted for the largest single increase: 5.7%, from 2.81 to 2.97 trillion lire. Produce imports sank 13.4% to 4.41 trillion. But fish imports were up 6.4% to 2.05 trillion lire. Figures were available at press time only for January to October.

Food is the third largest industry in Italy, behind machinery and textiles. It employs about three million people, with a payroll of 365 billion European Currency Units. Food production in Italy increased 18.6% between 1980 and '89, and further processing was up 12.2%. Italians spent just over 148 trillion lire on food and drink in 1989, or 20.3% of all national expenditures - down from 22.9% in 1986 and 27.1% in 1980.

Unilever, the fourth largest food processor in Italy with 1990 sales of $3 trillion lire, is the leading company on the frozen food (Findus label) and ice cream market. Much of the rest of the food industry is state-owned, including the number two company, SME Societe Meridionale Finanziaria SpA., with more than 4.7 trillion lire in sales. Italy has a population of 57.6 million, with a very slow growth rate. The lira is now pegged at about 1,300 to the dollar, off from about 1,200 last year and nearly 1,400 in 1989.

Plastic Packaging Volume Doubles over Five Years

Plastic packaging volume doubled in Italy between 1983 and 1989, and laminated packaging showed a 66% increase, according to a new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Packaging in Europe: Italy, The Market and the Suppliers in the 1990's.

The Italian packaging industry has an overall volume worth about 16 billion lire, which was up almost seven percent in 1989, with over 2,500 companies involved. Over the last few years, there has been an increasing concentration in the industry, with smaller companies being absorbed by larger ones - many of them foreign.

Concentration is lowest in the plastics sector, where a myriad of small companies supply often local demand - it accounts for 80% of the companies and 42% of the employment. By contrast, the top two companies account for 95% of the laminated carton output, and the top four for 95% of the glass container production. With the demand for plastic packaging on a fast track, there are both opportunities for investment and acquisition - and problems with recycling, especially for PET bottles. Disposal and recycling problems are making for a revival of glass packaging.

Copies of the report are 350 [pounds] for Europe, $700 for North America and 353 [pounds] for the rest of the world from the Intelligence Unit at 40 Duke St., London W1A 1DW, England.

A Few Words about Framec

Framec S.p.A. has built up its business on refrigerated cabinets for frozen food, ice cream and soft drinks, and on refrigeration units for transport.

Now based in San Giorgio, Moferrato, the comany was founded in 1963 by Renzo Francia, but grew out of a previous business he had established in 1945 with Felice Germano to produce refrigeration equipment after studying the workings of the United States war surplus market.

Thousands of retail stores now use Framec cabinets, which include coffin-type island, multi-deck vertical and upright glass door merchandiser types. Some recent developments include low-tension compressors, new types of transport units and the Mac.

Table : Italy: 1990 Consumption of QFF by Product Group Percentage represents increase in volume over 1989: All volumes in tons.
Food Category Retail % Catering % Total %
Vegetables 111,300 7.3 82,450 6.9 193,750 7.1
- Single 78,700 68,710 147,410
- Mixed 31,700 12,740 44,440
- Prepared 900 1,000 1,900
Fruits and Juices 400 14.3 710 18.3 1,110 16.8
Seafood/Molluscs 6,800 17.2 1,320 20.0 8,120 17.7
Fish 42,870 9.5 3,250 8.3 46,120 9.4
- Raw 16,800 800 17,100
- Breaded 15,950 520 16,470
- Other 10,420 1,930 12,350
- Prepared 200 - 200
Meat 7,300 -4.0 4,100 -5.8 11,400 -4.6
- Minced 5,050 1,900 6,950
- Other 2,150 2,200 4,350
- Prepared 100 - 100
Potatoes 26,350 14.6 31,100 8.7 57,450 11.3
- French Fries 23,800 29,100 52,900
- Other 2,550 2,000 4,550
Snacks 24,800 1.6 4,480 5.4 29,280 2.2
- Pizza 6,600 2,320 8,920
- Other 11,700 1,810 13,510
- Dough 6,500 350 6,850
Pasta Dishes 9,000 1.1 4,100 0.0 13,100 0.8
- Single 3,400 1,800 5,200
- Stuffed 5,600 2,300 7,900
Milk Products 5,200 6.1 3,120 4.0 8,320 5.3

And Desserts
Poultry and Turkey 8,250 -2.4 3,400 3.0 11,650 -0.9
- Whole 1,750 700 2,450
- Parts 3,300 2,400 5,700
- Prepared 3,200 300 3,500
 Total 242,270 7.1 138,030 6.7 380,300 6.9

PHOTO : Italy's 1990 QFF Market

PHOTO : Italy's Historical QFF Consumption (1960-90)
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles; Italy
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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