La sfida della sostenibilità per la filiera agroalimentare italiana | CDP

The sustainability challenge for the Italian agri-food chain

The extended agri-food chain is the leading economic sector in our country, with a turnover of over 500 billion and almost 4 million employees.

In this context, the massive relaunch of investments that will affect the country in the coming years will be an unmissable opportunity, both for overcoming the impacts of the crisis and some structural fragilities that remain in the sector and to start a long-term path that is increasingly oriented towards sustainability.

The new Brief analyses the characteristics, growth opportunities and new challenges of sustainability in the Italian agri-food chain.

Read the Key Message and download the pdf for full details.

  • The extended agri-food chain (agricultural sector, food industry, distribution and Horeca) is the leading economic sector in our country, with a turnover of over 500 billion euros and almost 4 million employees.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has had a relatively small impact on the agri-food sector, with a 4% year-on-year decline in added value.  By leveraging excellence there is room for a dynamic restart, also in terms of sustainability.
  • Evidence shows that the Italian agri-food chain has had some encouraging results in terms of sustainable development, indicating an increased focus on managing the risks and opportunities arising from global changes.
  • It is worth noting the productivity recovery that the sector has recorded in recent years (+30% from 2010 to 2019), despite the absence of specific measures to support R&D activity. This is in the context of a growing global focus on food security and more efficient food production and distribution systems.
  • Interesting progress has also been made in organic farming, thanks to the proliferation of organic farms as an alternative production model, with a higher level of adoption than the European average (15% vs. 7.5%).
  • In terms of emissions intensity, the sector's performance is positive, with values that place it among the best in Europe. This shows that the sector is moving towards a low-carbon production model, even if it is still far from the specific targets set out in the Paris Agreement or European policy guidelines.
  • In this respect, significant effort still needs to be made (i) to increase the use of renewable sources in the production and consumption mix, (ii) to continue reducing polluting emissions, (iii) to pay more attention to the issue of soil erosion and water consumption.
  • The significant increase in investments that will affect the country over the next few years will be an unmissable opportunity to overcome some of the sector's remaining structural weaknesses - from entrepreneurial dwarfism to the poor export vocation of the South, to the general challenge of digitalisation processes. Most importantly, it will be an opportunity to launch a long-term development path that is increasingly oriented towards sustainability.
Read the brief