The organization cannot guarantee entry to attendees who neither purchase their own tickets online nor digitally register their invitation. >> Go to the ticket office

Italian agri-food export to China: a forward-looking choice roadshow


On December 9, 2023 at the prestigious New Wave Da Vittorio in Shanghai, the second stop of the Cibus 2024 and Tuttofood 2025 Roadshow took place. We spoke about it with Angelo Morano, Managing Director of Insider International Ltd

Innovation, quality, new technologies, food safety: these are some of the themes that Chinese buyers are asking Italy to delve into at this time, the same focuses that emerged during the international Roadshow of Cibus and Tuttofood, held on December 9th in Shanghai. In the modern and refined spaces of New Wave in Shanghai, the Da Vittorio Bistro, recently awarded with a Michelin star, “The Italian Aperitivo” attracted about a hundred people, including international buyers and distributors as well as representatives of Italian institutions, such as Dr. Tiziana D’Angelo, the Italian Consul General in China, and ICE executives. Angelo Morano, Managing Director of Insider International Ltd and a resident of Shanghai for 25 years, told us about the evening, also helping us understand many aspects of a great economic power, its inhabitants, and its relationship with Italy.

What is the situation of Italian exports to China?

It’s a million dollar question for professionals in every sector: what is the state of health of Italian agri-food exports to China? The trend is clear: exports are constantly growing. “No one has precise data,” Morano emphasized, “but if we analyze customs data, there is a lot of demand for Italian products from the Chinese side. In 2022, Italian exports to China amounted to approximately 16 billion euros, with a significant increase over the previous year.” Although it represents only 2.5% of the total Italian agri-food exports, also due to very strict phytosanitary protocols and procedures, there’s plenty of room for those who decide to invest here.

The most requested Italian products

“The main Italian products exported to China are wine, dairy products, olive oil, pasta, and cured meats”, Morano specified. “The Italian regions that export the most to China are Piedmont, driven by its wine districts (5 and a half billion euros a year), Lombardy (3.9 billion a year), and Veneto (2.6 billion a year). The regions of China that import most from Italy are the coastal regions, which on the one hand are historically hubs of great attraction for people from abroad, and on the other hand benefit from facilitated logistics”. Among the products of new appeal, it’s a great moment for Italian ice creams and frozen products, as long as beers and snacks. “Unfortunately, price increases are having a negative impact for sauces and oil”, Morano explained, but he recognizes that a possible commercial key is “focusing on PDOs and PGIs, since this kind of products are globally recognized”.

Made in Italy and China: a look into the future

Market opportunities for Italian agri-food exporters in China are numerous. The growth of Italian restaurants and fine dining trends can give an helping hand to Italy: nowadays, Italian food producers can match a medium-high range of consumers, accustomed to a cuisine that features high levels of show and aesthetic aspects. Young people can play a crucial role thanks to their open-minded vision: in fact, an increasing number of Chinese professionals boasts work or study experiences abroad, not necessarily in Italy but also in Europe or the USA. “This is not an Italian national challenge: we are competing at a global level”, Morano clarified. “That often means clashing with different price logics. The priority for Italian producers is not arriving too late, when the Chinese taste will be already well-defined and altered by competition. For example, Italian extra virgin olive oil is an excellence for us, but the strongly aromatic Southern Italian oil typically doesn’t match the taste of the Chinese consumer, who is not used to it. Our cheeses could have the same fate”. Hence the need to orient marketing actions with foresight and constancy. “Exported products must be adapted to Chinese preferences”, Morano continued. “We need to think about a new narrative and new packaging. In this sense, Cibus tells international experiences and the evolving strategies of food marketing very well”.

China after the pandemics and the crisis

Forced to undergo no less than 11 quarantines to enter and leave China, and then blocked for almost 200 days, Morano recounted the pandemic period with particular emotion, having also undergone a volunteer experience in Shanghai: “It was a very difficult time for them”, he recalled. “The Chinese began to lose confidence in the government. There was a 100% drop in consumption because everything was closed, but in the end, much was leveraged on the internal market, which flourished last year. Four or five months ago, the country reopened and is now avidly recovering lost ground. That’s why it’s time to go to China”.

In 2024, the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of Marco Polo’s death are scheduled; this historic figure has a very important connection with China: why not seize this opportunity too? “The Chinese really like numbers, historical events, and… Italy too”, Morano reminded.

Waiting for Cibus and Tuttofood…

“I definitely hope there will be room at Cibus and Tuttofood to talk about China: if not now, when?” he concluded. “There is a lot of expectation; Chinese really want to come to the show, see different types of pasta, ingredients… We have to make sure we’re ready”.

Time for cultural tips

As is known, Chinese people really like taking photos. At the "Italian Aperitivo" evening in Shanghai, the digital platform for sharing images, taken by a professional photographer, turned out to be the ideal tool for involving friends and acquaintances in the experience at New Wave. Nearly 2,500 users interacted with the platform, not counting interactions through WeChat, the main social network in China. WeChat has reached one billion accounts worldwide with a goods exchange of 600 billion euros. The greatest increase in the number of registrations comes from Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States, although the vast majority of users are in China.


Angelo Morano

With over 26 years of academic and professional experience in the Asia-Pacific region, mainly in Shanghai, China, he has long worked as an executive in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Japan. Morano has provided strategic and integrated leadership for various European and Chinese clients and projects in different sectors. His extensive network, built over the years in the public and private sectors of the APAC region, is one of his most valuable assets. Since 2003, he has been CEO and founder of InsiderCHINA (Insider International Ltd), which provides strategic and operational assistance to foreign projects and companies in Greater China. He manages government relations for the network he represents in China and has always been very active within the Italian business community, serving on the Board of Directors of the China-Italy Chamber of Commerce for many years and founding the Food and Beverage working group as national coordinator. He has supported Cibus and Fiere di Parma for incoming projects in the buyer program and has developed the social media platform for Cibus in China. He works closely with the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
May 7-10, 2024
9:30 - 18:00 except for the last day, May 10, 2024, where the last allowed entry is at 1 p.m. and the event closes at 3 p.m.