Brexit: what changes for Italian food?
Brexit: what changes for Italian food?

Call him Brexit it was a bad omen. The referendum that asked British citizens to stay or leave the European Union gave the unexpected result you know.

Despite the 7-point lead attributed by the polls to the supporters of remain, the UK is out. The separatists do not seem to have come to terms with an important economic issue: the free trade in food products. In short, they acted from the stomach but without thinking about the reasons for the stomach.

For example, they could struggle to find the many Italian specialties available up to now on the shelves of supermarkets or in large restaurants. The numbers speak for themselves: we have in the United Kingdom the fourth foreign outlet for our food sector with a value of imports that exceeds 3 billion euros.

The main problem becomes renegotiating trade relations with the EU. In the absence of concessions on duties and trade, the British could raise customs barriers, which would have a heavy impact on the sales of the best Made in Italy food.


Just in 2016, Great Britain became the first world market for it Italian sparkling wine, especially for Prosecco, and with Brexit, exports could be at risk. Italian wines will certainly become more expensive in the short term, such as those imported from France and Spain.

Similar speech for i cheeses. On British tables, 62% of cheeses and even 98% of derivatives come from EU countries.

Italian exports, which grew by 7.8% in 2015 compared to the previous year, mainly concern mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano and gorgonzola, all products that will become less available and will certainly cost more.

With the Leave victory, fruit and vegetables will also cost more, especially tomatoes and citrus fruits that Great Britain imports mainly from Spain and Italy.

For the artisanal specialties of our small producers it will be more complicated to confirm themselves on the shelves of Harrods, Selfridges or Whole Foods and who knows if TV celebrities such as Nigella Lawson, Antonio Carluccio, Gennaro Contaldo, Gino D'Acampo or Jamie Oliver himself, all influential testimonials of Italian style in the kitchen, they will be forced to change their recipes because the Italian raw material is scarce or expensive.

Even in the opposite view, the consequences of Brexit do not look very promising.

What will happen to the sixty and more British PDOs (protected designation of origin, the correspondent of our PDOs)?


A few days ago the American magazine New Repubblic dared predictions by sketching an apocalyptic picture: without the protection of the EU, the Blue Stilton as we know it will run out. Imagine improvised cheesemakers all over the world ready to imitate the splendid British blue cheese with the attached claim to keep its name on the label.

This is not quite the case. Since 2006 (reg. 510) the EU also recognizes and protects PDOs and PGIs from third countries, as long as they request their registration according to EU rules. Therefore the Stilton will continue to be produced exclusively in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

One wonders however, about how Brexit will change our tables, if sandwiches, fish & chips and pudding will become "ethnic" foods from today.

The idea of finding them next to falafel and goulash at some street food festival makes you smile. Bitter.

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