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Italy’s Staple Foods in Danger of Extinction

According to the leading Italian farming organization Coldiretti, five staples of the Mediterranean diet olive oil, citrus fruit, wine, honey and pasta are in danger of extinction.

“The effects of the collapse of production will be felt at the Italian table,” a Coldiretti spokesperson warned. “With the collapse of the national harvest the risk increases of bringing to the table product being passed off as ‘Made in Italy’ but sourced from abroad and often of low quality.”

In 2015, supermarket shelves will carry 35 percent less Italian olive oil, 25 percent less citrus fruit, 15 percent less wine and 50 percent less honey.

As for pasta, Italian durum wheat crops suffered a slight decline of 4 percent, while a substantial 10 percent drop occurred in the EU and a substantial 27 percent fall was recorded in Canada Italy’s main supplier. The domestic pasta industry is heavily dependent on purchasing wheat from abroad, which supplies approximately 40 percent of basic needs.

Due to poor crop yield as a result of bad weather, olive oil made in Italy will be rationed with virgin stock that is expected to be depleted within the first six months of 2015. Chestnuts have hit a record low, significantly below the 18 million kilograms of 2013 and one-third of the amount harvested 10 years ago.

A study conducted in January 2013 of the sales and distribution of 11 food categories also revealed that the breakfast food market, which generates €5.47 million annually, has seen a significant collapse. Items such as biscuits and jams are experiencing the greatest decrease. The other categories researched, which saw overall increases, included basic dishes, ready-made basic dishes (fresh or frozen), fast food, happy hour at home (prosecco, beer, alcoholic and non alcoholic aperitivi, snacks, etc.), health foods (vitamins, whole wheat, natural tuna, etc.), second courses (fresh or frozen meat and fish), gourmet (salmon, caviar, truffle, saffron, champagne, etc.) and healthy alternatives (soy, rice, and gluten-free products).

It has also been reported that healthy alternatives have risen in sales by 40 percent, which indicates that Italian consumers are willing to spend more on items that meet their needs.

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