To be or not to be (an Italian product)? That’s the question!

Okay, I have to make a confession: as I am Italian I cannot live without Italian food! However, since I have been living abroad, I have noticed how hard it can be to find real Italian products! Grocery stores are a good example: you want to buy some pasta or parmigiano and you can find several different brands. The green-white-red flag is there, the name is Italian, maybe on the packaging you can also find a picture of an important Italian symbol etc. Then you turn your box of spaghetti and…surprise! The product you were buying is not Italian at all! This phenomenon is what they call “Italian sounding”. It is related to brands that give off an illusion of being connected with Italy because they are labelled with Italian names and misleading Italian words, images, trademarks and recipes. So if you are not careful enough, you could buy something that is just evoking Italy and probably is very different from a real one.

But why does it happen?

Made in Italy is a strong brand, in fact in 2014 it was considered the 3rd well-known brand in the world after Coca-Cola and Visa. According to a study by KPMG, foreigners usually associate the term with certain values such as appearance, beauty, luxury, wellbeing, passion and creativity. The target for Italian sounding companies is a community of people called “followers”. They are focused on an idea, produced by a direct or evoked experience, which puts the Italian lifestyle in the centre of their dynamic identity. For them, everything that recalls or support the Italian way of living is absorbed by all the other symbols and values.  As goods just have to recall my country, there’s no need to really make them in Italy. That’s why in the international market only one product out of three is a real Italian one!

In conclusion, the next time you go to the supermarket be certain of what you buy!

Source: Riccardo Giumelli, 2016, Italian Sociological Review, <<The meaning of Made in Italy changes in a changing world>>

 

 

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8 Responses to To be or not to be (an Italian product)? That’s the question!

  1. anaellelorre says:

    Hey ariannalosano! I love italian food – and as French, french food too – and I can confirm that it is difficult to find real brands from these countries abroad. I think that this is also because there is not a big market for them in other countries where people tend to eat very different products and also that the costs for exportation, promotion and so on would not make the business profitable. So then “Italian sounding” brands appear.

    • ariannalosano says:

      hi anaellelorre! well, the market it’s pretty big (then it depends of course from country to country), but yes you’re right when you say that costs are really high, especially for italian companies because the 99% of them are SME. But if you go to the supermarket here in helsinki you will find some italian sounding products which cost more than the real italian one!

  2. Hi Arianna! Nice post. Is it frustrating to see “italian” foods on the shelves of supermarkets? Its almost like false advertising as you are receiving a different product to what you intended to buy!

  3. anze24 says:

    Hi Arianna. First of all, I also love and miss my home country food so i definitely get you there! 😀 I would like to tell that i didn`t know that Made in Italy is such a strong and well-known brand in the world. Also i would like to express that i am not a fan of misleading customers with product design and name to to create an erroneous impression but unfortunately this is just increasing.

  4. Foss says:

    Hey Arianna! I really love your post! I had the same experience but not here in Finland. I can find Dutch food, so i guess i am lucky. As you might know I am half Indonesian. In The Netherlands there is also a Dutch brand which produces Indonesian food. But it is not really Indonesian. So, when my grandmother heard that I used that brand once, she said: ‘oh are you cooking fake food?’. Than I realized that it was a dutch brand… So your post is very recognizable.

  5. flemingcraigcanada14 says:

    Hey Arianna, I understand as best as I can with your frustration and I have seen your passion about Italian cuisine and know very well to respect that. Your best fight against this? Buy an actual Italian brand that you know is 100% authentico

  6. belenlujang says:

    Hi Arianna! I really enjoyed your post but I also ended up with a frustrating feeling!! I understand you perfectly. I also miss my country food so much as here in Finland I barely can find Spanish food. Specially “jamón serrano” or “chorizo” 😦 But, in my case, I can’t finde this products even from other brands that try to reproduce them, which, from the other side, makes me happy 😀 Also I have to say that I didn’t know “Made In Italy” brand was that strong, so good to know!!

  7. mherr96 says:

    Hey Arianna! As a spanish girl I have to say that here in Finland, I have found the same problem as you with the food. It is sad that these brands in our countries are not strong enough in other countries, but at least with they tried and we can “feel” at home while studying here… I really liked your post!

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