Dr Amedeo Scarpa
Dr Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE and Director of Italian Trade Agency Dubai Office Image Credit: Supplied

What is the general state of trade between Italy and the UAE? How about the F&B sector?

Italy and the UAE have strong trade relations. The UAE is the most important market for Italy’s exports in the Middle East and North Africa. Actually 10 per cent of our total trade surplus comes from the commercial exchanges with the UAE. Italy is the ninth supplier of the UAE at a global level, and the third supplier among the EU, after the UK and Germany. Though in the first nine months of 2019 our exports slightly decreased by 1.4 per cent compared to the previous year, from 3,306 billion euros in 2018 to 3,259 billion euros in 2019, our surplus rose to 2,604 billion euros. Italy is a global giant in terms of agriculture and F&B product exports with its almost $50 billion value exported yearly. In the first nine months of 2019 Italian F&B exports grew by 5.3 per cent worldwide (from 30 billion to 31.7 billion euros), while towards the UAE the increase was almost five times higher: +24 per cent. Besides that, the margins are still there, considering that the total value of Italian exports to the UAE was 220 million euros. In our view there is an increasing demand of gourmet Italian food and high-quality Italian food ingredients and beverages in the UAE and GCC, due to aware consumers who are more oriented towards healthy choices.

What are some of Italy’s most popular food exports to the UAE?

The UAE is an important market for the Italian food sector, with a growing export. Most of the increase deriving from confectionery reported a 30 per cent surge, from 17.3 million euros in 2018 to 22.6 million euro in 2019. Italian bakery products rose by 21 per cent and dairy products 16 per cent. The agri-food is a thriving and rapidly growing sector. Italy with its extraordinary biodiversity and its great variety of IGP (PGI — Protected Geographic Indication) and DOP (PDO – Protected Designation of Origin) can play a crucial role in the future of the agri-food sector.

Are there any trends we should be aware of that are changing the nature of trade?

Combining tradition and innovation, complying with the highest quality standards, the Italian food sector is very popular worldwide. Demand for authentic Made in Italy products and an increasing interest in the MENASA region for healthy foods are all key factors driving the demand for Italian products in the UAE. Sustainability will have a pivotal role in the future of agri-food, more and more eco-friendly. Today’s consumer claims products clearly labelled and expects transparency in the traceability system. Italian ingredients and agri-food products are a guarantee of quality, combining modern agricultural techniques with biological control, soil health and lowering water use. Many Italian agri-food producers are developing gluten-free products, “free-from” foods for hypersensitive people, and are focusing on organic crops to meet today’s market needs. In line with Gulfood’s theme of Rethinking Food and the UAE’s ongoing food labelling initiatives, we will highlight Italy’s own innovative Battery Label system, based on our Mediterranean diet that advocates recommended quantities in a varied and balanced daily intake.

How are you helping your partners showcase their products at this year’s Gulfood?

With more than 200 companies, associations and organisations, Italy will be strongly represented in the various pavilions of Gulfood. Several Italian firms will be present at the ITA Stand, showcasing new brands. And like every year, at the ITAlian Food Lab visitors can enjoy the true flavours of the Italian cuisine made using high-quality Made in Italy ingredients only, tasting sessions, gourmet food products and benefit from informative sessions on the trending theme of Nutrition and Food Labelling. Famous Italian Chefs will be hosted and during the five days our Food Lab will also be featuring some of the most popular UAE-based Italian chefs, specialised in authentic Italian cuisine.

At the ITAlian Food Lab visitors can enjoy the true flavours of the Italian cuisine made using high-quality Made in Italy ingredients only, tasting sessions, gourmet food products and benefit from informative sessions on the trending theme of Nutrition and Food Labelling

- Dr Amedeo Scarpa

Tell us about some of your partners at the show

At Gulfood ITA will help promoting excellent Made in Italy food ingredients in the UAE and Middle East, working together with the Embassy of Italy to the UAE and the Consulate of Italy in Dubai in a joint effort to cement bilateral relations and strengthen the presence of Italian firms in the UAE. At the ITA Stand we host the ITAlian Food Lab every year to raise awareness about the nutritional benefits of Made in Italy products. The stand will showcase their products: Pasta Zara (pasta); Urbani Tartufi (truffles); Caseificio Corvino (cheese); Tonno Maruzzella (tuna); Caffè Monforte (coffee); Gioiella Latticini (cheese); Colussi Group (pasta, rice, biscuits and “free from”); Molino Di Ferro (pasta); Compagnia Alimentare Italiana/Mantova (extra virgin olive oil); and Fiera di Parma (Cibus fair).

What are some of the most interesting new products at Gulfood?

This 25th edition of Gulfood is hosting an ever-increasing number of Italian exhibitors showcasing a wide selection of new brands. Participating Italian companies are exhibiting a large variety of products, including artisan cheese, biscuits, bakery products, Italian coffee, organic foods, “free-from” foods, power foods, pasta, sauces, richly flavoured truffles, canned foods and tuna. Come and visit ITA Stand, Shaikh Saeed Hall number S1-302 and buon appetito with us!

Brands to watch



Products: Blends for espresso, filter, Greek, Turkish and Arabian coffee.


Products: All types of dry Italian pasta, sauces, peeled tomatoes and passata.

Annual production: 300,000 tonnes (264,000 tonnes for export) 


Products: Fresh and frozen Buffalo Mozzarella

Annual production capacity: 7,000kg (70% for export) 



Products: Tinned salmon, tuna, sardines, cod and other seafood

Production: 40 tonnes a day



Products: Extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, dipping oils, sauces and condiments, balsamic vinegar and dressings.



Products: Biscuits, crackers, free-from products; Italian pasta, sauces and rice

Annual production capacity: 192,600 tonnes (25,000 for export)



Products: Gluten-free pasta, polenta, breadsticks, snacks, biscuits, lasagna and potato gnocchi

Annual production capacity: 12,500 tonnes



Products: Artisanal cheeses, including Burrata, mozzarella and stracciatella

Annual production capacity: 8,000 tonnes


Product: Truffles. Leader with 70% of global market