Italian food group chief warns of major food challenges

Rome, June 23 (IANS) President of Italy’s main food and beverage industry group has warned that food supply issues stemming from the conflict in Ukraine risk causing major problems in Italy in the fall unless steps are taken now to avoid transportation problems.

Ivano Vacondio, President of Federalimentare, recently told local media that Italy was on the verge of a crisis regarding the supply of key grains and cereals, Xinhua news agency reported.

Vacondio’s remarks were verified and contextualised on Wednesday by Federalimentare officials contacted by Xinhua news agency.

“It’s a logistics issue, which is fundamental for a country like ours that already imports 4 million tons of wheat and 6 million tons of corn as well as large quantities of barley and soybeans,” he said.

“The supply problem already exists, but we can make up for it now with our own domestic crops,” the organisation’s President added.

“But starting in September, when we will have to start importing grains and cereals from other parts of Europe and the rest of the world, we will need better logistics and that is a system that is experiencing a great deal of stress at the current time.”

Federalimentare is not the only national entity expecting hard times for Italy’s food system. Multiple Italian agricultural and farmers’ associations have predicted reductions as large as half of northern Italy’s summer agricultural output due to unusually high temperatures and dry conditions. This comes amid higher fuel costs and other transportation issues related to the crisis in Ukraine.

In this context, the global Food Price Index, produced by the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, recorded its three highest readings ever over the last three months.