Chinese import is destroying Italian chili pepper market

Chili pepper is one of the gastronomic symbols of Italy and is one of the protagonists on the Italian tables, especially in the southern regions. 

Today, there is a great demand from consumers, but Italy, with its insufficient production, is able to satisfy only 30% of the total needs. Calabria ranks first for the cultivation of this food and in fact produces a quarter, or 25%, of the national chili pepper and is followed by Basilicata, Campania, Lazio and Abruzzo. Precisely for this reason, “il Bel Paese” has always imported about three quarters of the product from non-European markets such as China, Egypt and Turkey which currently conquer the Italian market with two thousand tons of product every year. 

Recently, the Cia, the confederation of Italian farmers, declared that Chinese competition is destroying the made in Italy. But let’s see why. In Italy, with a quantity of 10 kilograms of fresh chili pepper, one kilo of dried product can be obtained which is then sold for 15 euros, on the contrary, the same amount of goods from China costs only three euros, that is a fifth less. 

The high price of the Italian product is due to the cost of labour and to the long professional transformation procedures. As for China, on the contrary, chili peppers have really low prices on the one hand because hygiene and sanitary standards are often not taken into account, and on the other hand because the final product turns out to be of poor quality since the processing method is not very accurate and involves the shredding of the whole plant, with petiole, leaves and roots. 

“The Italian production system, in addition to quality certifications, would also need a modernization of processing techniques to reduce production costs, starting with the varietal improvement of the cultivars, to obtain fruits concentrated on the upper and external part of the plant, more easily detachable in harvesting operations with machines that facilitate the job”, declared the Italian confederation of farmers. 

“The creation of denominations of territorial origin would give the consumer a guarantee of quality, traceability and wholesomeness and an added and appropriate value to the production area”, said the Cia. In this way, the extensive cultivation of chili peppers would grow and the Italian market would be able to meet the ever-increasing demand, also considering that the microclimate and characteristics of the Italian territory offer chili pepper an ideal environment for being cultivated. 

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