Above: Roberto Moncalvo, president of Coldiretti (the Italian confederation of food growers), addressed association members at a protest held at the Brenner pass in the Italian Alps on Wednesday of this week (photo by Gianni Cantele).
On Wednesday December 4, 2013, grape grower and winemaker Gianni Cantele attended the Coldiretti “protect Made in Italy food products” protest held at the Brenner pass in the Alps where trucks cross the border from Austria into Italy.
During the protest, Coldiretti members blocked the trucks and insisted that the drivers let them inspect the contents.
According to a post published yesterday (December 5) on the Coldiretti website, 27% of the trucks contained counterfeit “made in Italy” food products.
Above: Coldiretti president Roberto Moncalvo examines the contents of a truck heading into Italy. The pig thighs, butchered from pigs raised in Germany, were headed to Modena to be sold as “made in Italy” prosciutto (image via the Coldiretti website).
Founded in 1944, Coldiretti — Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti (National Conferderation of Direct Growers) — is Italy’s union of independent food (and grape) growers. Gianni is the president of the Puglia chapter of the union (he was elected in January of this year).
The Brenner pass protest was just one of series of rallies and protests that have been organized across Italy by the union this week.
Above: A sea of growers dressed in yellow this week at the Brenner pass (photo by Gianni Cantele).
According to the Coldiretti post, a wide range of counterfeit agricultural products make it into Italy each year, including cheese, milk, and pork.
“In Italy,” said Coldiretti president Roberto Moncalvo when he addressed the crowd at a rally in Rome this week, “two out of every three prosciutti come from pigs raised in Holland, Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain. And their provenance is never clearly marked on the label.”
The union has called for Italian government officials to introduce stricter and more transparent labeling regulation that would better inform Italian consumers on the provenance of food products they buy at the supermarket.
According to Coldiretti, the poor quality of counterfeit “made in Italy” food products is detrimental to the “made in Italy” brand and it adds to unemployment in Italy where growers and food workers already face the challenges of the continuing economic crisis in the EU.