The democracy of quality
Italian agri-food products are a great heritage of our national identity, hand in hand with our rich culture, landscape and art. An ancient cultural heritage and huge economic resource that needs to be protected and valorized.
No other country in the world has the same wealth of territorial identity as Italy, and this means that we must promote a new level of awareness which is anchored in the community (now more than ever, when there is the threat of seeing it upturned), because the bond between man and his territory runs deep: the term communitarianism not only refers to the relationship between human being and human being, but also to the bond between man and his territory and environment. This applies to both the natural and “acquired” or “built” environment; namely, the cultural environment. In this way, we can fight the disorientation and confusion of contemporary man; in this sense, we can and must speak of a deep empathy with one’s environment and territory. The value of the environment is two-fold, because it creates positive or negative feelings in the individual: a landscape or piece of architecture can in some way lead to the quality of life improving or deteriorating.
Living in a country like ours means being given an important mission to accomplish, one that is inherently part of the quality concept which must animate a new political-cultural project. Agriculture is an example of how a natural environment is such, as it is the result of man’s ability to shape the territory. And this line of reasoning – because it doesn’t deny the action of man – can be seen as a “multifunctional” approach, also towards the conservation of the environment. Agriculture is the channel of this reasoning, because human activity in a territory is an activity that shapes and “controls” the natural environment. It is no surprise that Europe has built the only identity model in its present policy around agriculture: a “multifunctional” model, in which there is a link between environment, food and agriculture. Agriculture is “legitimised” because it is not only the production of goods, but also a “guarantee” of food security and the protection of the landscape and environment.
This approach was endorsed during the transformation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) from quantitative to qualitative, and today it is further supported by the need to pursue food sovereignty: in a world where we are starting to see a shortage in agricultural raw materials, we can no longer accept going below certain levels of dependency on food. Agriculture cannot be reduced to a question of rurality; it should remain a productive profession. Our country needs its farmers and agri-food businesses; now more than ever. Agriculture, fishing and food industries are the key pillars of our economy. This then links directly to diet being a central element in the quality of people’s lives, with Italy playing, among other things, the role of “food superpower”, in virtue of its consolidated primacy which must become a symbol; not only in terms of production, but of culture and quality of life, in order to guarantee a non-relocatable Made in Italy.
Giuseppe Prezzolini, rightly boasting the brilliant Italian creation of spaghetti, reached the conclusion that “Italian cuisine is a philosophy of life.” The limits of Italian policy are seen not only in its inability to effectively combat agropiracy, but also in the development of – or rather lack of – truly global communication. The most important food and wine publications in the world are either English or French. As far as this competition is concerned, the winner is the one who also manages to govern communication: because it is not enough to know how to produce quality; it is also necessary to know how to communicate it. If quality isn’t communicated, it is not recognized; and if it is not recognized it, it will not become of any value. And all this – keeping in mind that the popular and diffused dimension of these values represents everything that is typically Italian – is because you will not find the network of high level trattorias, osterias and pizzerias that our Country boasts in any other part of the world. This structural popular dimension is the most powerful way to slow down homogenization. In this way, the virtuous circle is born: agriculture defends the environment; the environment offers possibilities to tourism; because diet, cuisine and food and wine traditions are a distinctive way of understanding the territory. This type of “circle” is one of the foundations of local development, because it respects and supports the territory.
To support the GI system as a model of economic development
In an era characterized by the increasing prevalence of complex production systems, the Geographical Indications (GI) system is a simplified model, which succeeds in having an extremely positive impact on territories. The GI supply chain generates a non-reproducible product and therefore not relocatable, thereby benefiting the territory’s production system and economy; it protects the environment, because the permanent link with the territory of origin necessitates the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity; it sustains the social cohesion of the entire community, contrasting phenomena such as the depopulation and desertification of rural areas, from which processes of abandon originate.
The Qualivita Foundation recognizes the excellence of the GI model and its importance for production areas, and promotes it at international level. In the more general framework of the GI system, Qualivita recognizes the originality and specificity of the European PDO, PGI, TSG model governed by EU Regulations 1151 of 2012, and pays particular attention to its evolution.
To guarantee legal protection for GIs
The lack of international protection for GIs is now one of the major issues in the development of the supply chain of traditional products. Regional protection systems, such as the European one, are not enough to protect products from misuse and imitation, counterfeiting and agropiracy, all of which damage both image and production, putting all that they represent at risk. In this context, it is crucial that international organizations, primarily the WTO, ensure that this issue has a prominent place on their agenda and in negotiations on the GI system, and that they make the necessary commitment to promoting legal protection. At the same time, each State must adopt a legislation for GIs, one that guarantees protection and prevents counterfeit products through the recognition of high standards, which are able to ensure the exclusivity and individuality of products, as well as guaranteeing the traceability of the supply chain.
The Qualivita Foundation works and collaborates at international level to ensure proper legal and commercial protection for GIs. It is committed to raising the awareness of the European Union and responsible international organizations (WTO, FAO, UN, UNESCO) and to the promotion of the quality of agri-food products in countries that have a legislation lacking provisions for the protection of GIs.
To recognize the importance of certification for agri-food products
Through the certification of food products, consumers are guaranteed a higher level of traceability and food safety in respect to products that are not recognized for their quality. Controls provide consumers with the certainty of the veracity of the characteristics of products with a designation of origin.
In addition to supporting and valorizing certified agri-food products, the Qualivita Foundation has created its own original certification system. The aim is to ensure the transparency and accuracy of information on the quality of products and services in the Ho.Re.Ca channel, and to make sure it meets the needs of restaurants and consumers in terms of food security, transparency and quality. In this respect, Qualivita wants to promote a strong alliance between farmers and consumers.
Transparent communication for GIs in order to make quality a global value
In an era that boasts an extraordinary wealth of information, bridging the huge gaps in communication within the agri-food sector becomes an obligation, particularly in the sector of quality productions. We increasingly find ourselves faced with what can only be defined as food illiteracy: people don’t know what they’re eating; they ignore production systems; and above all, they only have a rough idea of a basic concept like quality.
The Qualivita Foundation is committed to creating communication methods that are capable of promoting products with a designation of origin, and of transmitting exactly what they represent in an organic, consistent and systemic manner. Powerful and effective communication methods that have an impact on final consumers, helping to increase awareness of choices and eating habits.
To promote the development of GI products through new technologies
Today it is necessary to take one step further towards new technologies, which for agriculture, and in particular for products with a designation of origin, can represent an important development tool. Innovative communications technologies can represent a unique opportunity to consolidate the direct relationship between the producer and final consumer, and to reach a wider target audience, anywhere and in real time.
The Qualivita Foundation promotes the dissemination and use of new technology applications through the realization of digital publishing projects, aimed at valorizing GIs and creating a bibliography that is dedicated to them, which can be consulted online and for free.
To strengthen networks
In order for this commitment to promoting and protecting GIs at international level to be effective and efficient, it cannot be separated from the ability to work together and create a system. Cooperation between organizations that operate in various ways within the GI system plays a key role in contributing to its development, and must be aimed at creating a network of stable and constructive relationships.
The Qualivita Foundation works actively with all stakeholders in the sector to facilitate the free circulation and free exchange of information, and to assist in the implementation of initiatives and projects, promoting the creation of a stable network of relationships.
To support the fundamental role of distribution in the economic development of GIs
Introducing local products into the distribution chain is one of the obstacles that contributes to limiting the development of Geographical Indication products. Being able to reach the customers of large supermarket chains, as well as smaller networks (Local markets, Fair Trade groups, direct Sales, eating establishments) offers these products the opportunity to move out of what is often a far too local market and find larger sales spaces, thereby benefiting the entire supply chain that they represent.
The Qualivita Foundation supports all those in distribution that offer commercial space to products with a designation of origin, and which have created special communication initiatives to inform customers about the special characteristics of typical productions.