Supply Chain

Global Turnover Of Counterfeit ‘Italian’ Food Reaches €120bn

By Branislav Pekic
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Global Turnover Of Counterfeit ‘Italian’ Food Reaches €120bn

The global turnover of counterfeit 'Italian' food products has risen to an annual €120 billion, according to Italian farmers group Coldiretti.

The situation has worsened due to the war in Ukraine hindering trade with sanctions and embargoes, encouraging protectionism and multiplying the spread of counterfeit food items that have no links with Italy.

Coldiretti pointed out that over two thirds of ‘Italian’ food products are now fake, without any production or employment links to Italy.

Food Imitation

Topping the list is cheese, with the production of counterfeit Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano exceeding that of the originals.

Imitations range from Brazilian parmesao to Argentinean reggianito and parmesan spread across all continents, as well as Provolone Gorgonzola, Pecorino Romano, Asiago or Fontina cheese.


Italy's prestigious cured meats are also the most cloned, ranging from Parma to San Daniele ham, as well as Bologna mortadella or salami cacciatore.

Joining is list is also extra virgin olive oil or preserves such as San Marzano tomatoes, Coldiretti noted.

Other cloned products include wines, from Chianti to Prosecco, with the latter the most imitated under names such as Meer-secco, Kressecco, Semisecco, Consecco and Perisecco from Germany, Whitesecco from Austria, Prosecco from Russia and Crisecco from Moldova.

Production And Sales

In Brazil, several producers are claiming the right to continue using the Prosecco denomination under an agreement between the EU and Mercosur countries, a situation that could become worse if the EU recognises Croatia’s Prosek.


Paradoxically, rich countries are among the biggest counterfeiters, starting with the United States, where the value of ‘Italian sounding’ products is estimated at €40 billion.

According to Coldiretti, 90% of Italian-sounding cheeses in the USA 'are actually made in Wisconsin, California and New York.’

The production of Italian cheese imitations in the USA last year reached a record of over 2.6 billion kilograms, with an exponential growth in the last 30 years, surpassing even traditional American cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterrey and Jack.

Ukraine War

The counterfeit food industry is also rampant in Russia due to the Western sanctions and subsequent embargo on Western food products.


This has led the local food industry to produce fake foods such as Parmesan, mozzarella or salami Milano that have replaced original Italian specialities on store shelves.

In many territories, from the Urals to the Sverdlovsk region, factories specialising in the processing of milk and meat have sprung up to cover the demand for hard and soft cheese as well as cold cuts that used to be met by Italian food companies.

According to Coldiretti president, Ettore Prandini, "curbing the spread of food piracy” could create as many as 300,000 jobs in Italy.

© 2022 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest Retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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