‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ a Campaign to Recognize the Authenticity of Panettone Made in Italy

19 Novembre 2019 -
DI Redazione

Launched as a means of defending the Italian origins of the panettone and of safeguarding one of the country’s most famous foods, the campaign ‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ was presented at the seat of the national government at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome on 15thNovember.  At its roots, the campaign expresses a desire to promote one of the country’s most well-known holiday treats. A food loved the world over, the panettone symbolizes the excellence of Italian cuisine and represents part of the country’s cultural heritage.  ‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ is focused on protecting the traditional cake from low cost imitations and counterfeits; it also has as its objective the protection of the over 43,000 Italian pastry-making businesses and the 155,000 workers involved in the sector, along with all of the best-known brands involved in the industry.  It's aim is to recognise the quality and authenticity of panettone made in Italy.

Backed by the Italian governmental institution, Istituto Cooperazione Paesi Esteri, which aims to promote cultural, scientific, business and social cooperation between Italy and other nations, ‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ is working to have the panettone officially recognized as a traditional product of Italy through the creation of a quality assurance label, much like those found on Italian wines, which would guarantee the quality, distinctiveness and origins of the product.

Headed by a roundtable committee of journalists, editors, food critics, lawyers and representatives of important associations connected to the Italian food industry, ‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ has begun work to collect signatures to petition the country’s ministry to establish a label of Denominazione di Origine Protetta DOP– a mark which signifies a protected designation of origin of a food product and one which certifies that a product is locally made and guarantees consumers that what they are buying truly is Made in Italy.

As a matter of fact, there is an entire global phenomenon of foods which might appear at first glance to be made in Italy but aren’t necessarily. Brands simply use Italian images and words to evoke a sense of the country but they aren’t the real thing.

Silvia Fama, Founder of ‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ and editor of the magazine Cucine d’Italia, explained the importance of the campaign and what inspired her to create it, “Italian ‘sounding’ foods actually account for an annual loss to the Italian economy of 100 billion euros and over 300 thousand jobs, and it’s a trend which is rapidly increasing, up by about 70% in the last ten years.” She also highlighted the amount of business which surrounds the panettone around the world. Surprisingly, neither of the two largest global producers of panettone are Italian brands. “Do you know who the largest producer of panettone is in the world?” she asked, “It’s a Brazilian company, Bauducco, owned by a Brazilian man of Italian origin.  The company has six factories in the US, six distribution centers and 140,000 sales points in 80 countries.  Every year, they produce 200,000 tons of panettoni.”  The second largest producer is a Peruvian company, Onofrio.

The desire to establish some guidelines which will help to protect the origin of the panettone was echoed by other voices as well.  Lawyer Francesco Rossi noted that, “Until now, DOP labels have served as an instrument against counterfeiting within our internal market, but we need to change directions towards one which also includes the community market.”

Secretary for the Istituto Cooperazione Paesi Esteri Gianni Lattanzio explained the campaign’s objectives, “We need to make it so that consumers have a clear understanding of which products they are choosing and of the quality of those products. The panettone needs to be recognized through the use of specific safeguards such as a DOP label and quality certifications.”

Another voice in support of ‘Il Panettone è Italiano’ came from MP at the Italian Parliament elected in North and Central America Fucsia Fitzgerald Nissoli who added that, “Italian sounding is a phenomenon which is fairly diffused around the world, and, as an elected deputy abroad, I can vouch for the fact that this phenomenon siphons resources from the Italian economy and damages our country’s image. Therefore, I welcome initiatives like this one into the work of the parliament, where last year I even presented a motion to Montecitorio [the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies] looking to protect Made in Italy.”

The next stop for the campaign will take place on 14thDecember in the city of Milan - the city where the panettone originated.  The event, which is open to the public, will be held at Palazzo Bovara in Corso Venezia and will highlight the Italian authenticity and traditions of the panettone.

Liana Bicchieri