NEW YORK - Some people are hailing it as a culinary revolution. One thing is certain, the re-introduction of certain banned Italian pork products after 15 years represents some serious business opportunities.
Italian businesses will now be able to sell “Made in Italy” pork products such as salami, pancetta, air-cured pork, and culatello Parma ham after a decade-and-a-half of exclusion by American health authorities.
The measure will take effect beginning May 28, and was brought into effect by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Based on a review from the Service, as requested by the Italian government, it was formally declared that the Italian regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Piedmont, and the autonomous regions of Trento and Bolzano are free from swine flu.
This means that the American administration will eliminate the so-called “non-tariff barriers” for these products to enter commercialized domestic markets and that pork and dairy imports have a low risk of introducing Swine Vesicular Disease into the U.S.
No more Mexican Parma products?
This re-introduction specifically regards aged products -- those that are more than 14 months old -- while other pork products such as speck, cooked ham, mortadella, and sausages had already been allowed into the stars-and-striped market.
This will have huge economic benefits on the Italian meat industry -- a sector made up of not just large companies, but small and medium-sized businesses too. Coming at a time when the country is in economic turmoil, this decision comes as a godsend for many people.
The national confederation for Italian agriculture Coldiretti welcomed the measure, saying “in the current difficult economic climate, this is an important step for the agriculture industry which now has the opportunity to grow within the rich American market, where Italian food and drink exports have notably increased.”
The American market includes more than 300 million potential consumers, and according to calculations made by the Italian Meat and Salumi Industry Association, when the ban came into effect the annual loss of exports was estimated at almost 250 million euros. This re-opening is expected to generate 200-210 million euros of exports annually for the Italian meat industry, as well as 40 to 50 million euros for the cured meats sector.
These Italian products that are finally being recognized in the U.S. have, until now, been forced to contend with low-quality imitations, made outside of Italy. During the past 15 years, consumers were easy prey to Uruguayan sausages, Mexican “Parma Salami”, and Canadian “Venetian” salami. But now, the days of the mimicked meats are numbered.