Most people around the world think about Italian food as one of life’s pleasures, as something more or less exotic to explore while travelling, as a range of high-quality products that they buy when they want to treat themselves. In truth, Italian food is proving to be a powerful force for good within the tempestuous Italian (and possibly European) economy. Food products with quality certifications such as DOP and IGP are increasingly sought after not only by consumers but by financial analysts and investors that are more interested in return on investment than in flavour or texture. For instance, the delicious, juicy Buffalo Mozzarella for which Campania is famous has been the object of a recent study that was presented at the Milan Stock Exchange.
The Buffalo Mozzarella economy
Buffalo Mozzarella is no longer considered a niche product and is increasingly sought after both by consumers and restaurateurs. The aforementioned study explored its financial effect on 62 local producers, trying to gage not only its relevance in terms of business and export but also the way in which it influences the Country’s GDP. The revenue of the examined companies in 2018 was close to €500M (over 30% of which was generated by exports), but the overall impact this industry had on the economy was twice as large. Meaning that the global revenue of the whole Buffalo Mozzarella cluster was of almost €1220M, only half of which was connected to sales of the product. This powerhouse of wealth and economic growth is particularly important in that it boosts the economy of the southern regions of Italy, which historically have been lagging behind in industrial development.
A national perspective
It’s easy to be tempted into framing the success of the Buffalo Mozzarella industry within the traditional image of Southern Italy, whose only economic drives seem to be the food and tourism industries and whose overall economic impact tends to be discounted when considering the economy on a national scale. It is, therefore, worth noting that this particular industry can count on companies with an average value way above the national average and with revenue that can compete with the average top automotive brand, both in terms of generated revenue and in terms of employment.
Tied to the territory
One unique characteristic of the Buffalo Mozzarella industry is that it would be extremely hard – not to say impossible – to delocalise it and, by so doing, to divert its positive impact onto other, richer areas. This is no small concern, considering the evolution of most of Italy’s heavy industries, which have left the Country taking investments and capitals with them. The Buffalo Mozzarella industry is a formidable economic asset that simply can’t help but lift up the local economy. The product is universally acknowledged as a paragon of quality and increasingly popular among international consumers, and its very existence is inextricably tied to its region of origin, in a way that makes it impossible to even consider moving the production elsewhere in order to maximise revenue margins.