The Agri-Food industry is key to the Italian economy and the Italian and European manufacturing industries.
Food production and consumption have been changing faster and faster. Companies are increasingly investing in new and innovative products. Purchasers’ preferences appear to be increasingly influenced by the nutritional value and health benefits as well as the origin of products, the Made in Italy label, designations of origin and geographical indications proving to be the key to Italy’s excellent record of exports in this field.
Agricultural and food legislation is evolving to respond to such new trends. “From farm to table”, every stage of the production and distribution chain involves regulations intended to ensure that food and drinks are produced and sold safely and in compliance with high quality and transparency standards.
General features of the Agri-Food industry
In broad terms, the agri-food industry is characterized by a growing integration with the rest of the agri-food system, thanks to the cross connections between the farming, food processing and food distribution industries.
The Italian food industry structure has changed in recent decades, seeing the birth of new national brands – bigger industrial groups with a strong foreign presence – together with a strong tendency towards specialization and territorial concentration of small and medium size enterprises in specific agri-food districts.
These structural evolutions have been driven by distribution chain developments and changes caused by the growth of the large-scale retail trade which have caused a significant contraction of traditional distribution, which had a key role in safeguarding the Italian agri-food system from the increasing competition coming from other European countries.
Trends and developments
More recently, the disruptive challenges posed by e-commerce and IoT have called on the agri-food industry players to rethink their business models so as to exploit the opportunities offered by the “new economy”. Innovation of the entire value chain has become a key factor to success in this industry and avoiding business failures.
In this framework, the Italian Government program “Industry 4.0” has been welcomed by the industry. The program boosts innovation in Italy by granting tax incentives for investments in connectivity and new-economy-business-oriented assets.
Our Firm has developed a long experience in this industry, assisting major food and drink producers, manufacturers, and retailers on all legal aspects related to production, distribution and consumption of food and drink products, as well as advising start-ups in developing new projects and obtaining EU and national financing opportunities.
We provide assistance in procedures with the regulatory authorities in charge of protecting health and food products, and regularly support clients on issues related to labelling and nutrition, biological and chemical safety, new food and food enhancing agents, food alerts and waste, OGMs and pesticides, nutritional and health claims and product recall, designations of origin and geographical indications. Our Team also assists clients in transactions involving the production, distribution, and sale of food and drink across many practice areas such as real estate, retail, IP, consumer protection and litigation, corporate and tax law, common agricultural policy, competition and trade law and EU and national structural funds, delivering full legal and tax services to all food industry players regardless of size and of whether they are domestic or foreign.
Innovation cycle drivers are daily monitored to convey new opportunities for food industry stakeholders.
In particular, and as far as tax issues are concerned, our Team provides full tax assistance and advice on specific tax incentives for projects in this field (e.g. so-called Industry 4.0) and cross-border taxation (e.g. transfer pricing and permanent establishment issues). Our tax practice also gives full assistance and advice on VAT matters including VAT cash flow management projects (e.g, VAT opportunities for groups).
Our blog DBJ Watch (www.dbjwatch.it) constantly maps and monitors how and to what extent business innovation is injected into the agri-food sector in Italy.