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Prosecco and Asti spearhead new EU-backed promotion of GI-designated quality produce

Published:  22 November, 2019

The heartland DOCGs of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Asti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano have joined with producers from Provolone Valdpadana PDO, Mozzarella TSG and Olio Extravergine d’Oliva Toscana PGI for the launch of Enjoy European Quality Foods (EEQF).

Timed to coincide with this week’s global Italian Cuisine Week, the EEQF launch was unveiled in London as part of a drive to “inform and promote” consumers with regard to EU-produced food and drink with PDO, PGI, TSG or DOCG status – those rooted in and expressive of their place of origin.

DOCG Asti and Prosecco were chosen to sit alongside olive oil and cheese because of their penetration globally, with the names known to many consumers in key markers such as the UK, helping to highlight that Italy, with its rich gastronomic heritage, has the highest number of protected origin products in the world.

Speaking at the launch at the Italian Cultural Institute in London, Stefano Ricagno, vice president of the Consorzio Tutela Asti DOCG, explained the value and aims of the initiative.

“We have launched initiatives in the UK and America too, and in Britain sparkling wine and Asti has a very important place. The project is to give more value to the grape producers and the wine producer, and thanks to this activity we hope to improve knowledge of these products.

EEQF has initial funding to run for three years in five target markets of UK, Germany, Spain, Poland and Italy itself, with a series of events planned for each country.

Giulia Pussini, events manager for Consorzio Prosecco DOCG, described the launch of EEQF as “a very important European food project, to expand and increase knowledge behind certified European produce”, adding that by focusing on the very apex of quality production, Prosecco DOCG could be “turned into an international phenomenon”.

The issue of Brexit and the timing of the launch in the UK was addressed at a round table at the event, where representatives from the various food and drink territories were also joined by wine consultant Peter McCombie MW and Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli.

“This is an uncertain and worrying situation, because it can affect exports,” said Pussini.

“We see wine has established itself and consolidated its position [in the UK] and we hope the British will not give up on this pleasure. We hope a new negotiation will be in place on what kind of tariffs to apply or not to apply, and hopefully that will not affect our exports negatively.”

UK prime minster Boris Johnson famously told Italy that it would risk losing Prosecco sales if it didn’t back a favourable post-Brexit deal for the UK, but the mood of participants in the round table, including McCombie, was one of ‘wiser heads will prevail’ when it comes to future EU-UK trade.

The UK is second only to the US as a market for Italian food and drink products, which have a combined export value of €3bn a year. And, as Locatelli pointed out, “Italian food and drink have overtaken fashion and cars” in terms of defining a positive image of the country abroad.

EEQF aims to tap into that thirst for quality Italian produce, while raising the profile of the country’s exports as a whole.