Italians are very conscious about the story behind their food. Excellent product quality and regional origin are both highly valued. Sustainability is also receiving increasing attention. According to Paolo Valugani, responsible for legislation and regulations at the Northern Italy company Alberio S.p.A., active in the Animal By Products Processing Industry, this requires an effort from all parties involved in the production of feed to make high quality food.
“We consider origin important and are proud of our regional products. Every Italian region therefore has its own specialties. We have many rules and laws to guarantee regional origin. This also specifies the ways in which a product may be made. Consumers all over Italy are proud of the food from their own region and also buy it very consciously, ” says Valugani.
Local for local
Typical Italian products have a strong image. The prosciutto crudo is a good example. These dried hams are famous. Paolo Valugani emphasises the high quality requirements that are requested. “No concessions are made to quality. In addition, it must involve local production, which often takes place in larger industrialised companies. Differently from how perceived in many other European countries, in Italy large scale can be connected to High Quality It is about the quality of products and production, and about regional location.”
Every Italian region has its own specialties. As a result, there is a wide variety of foods and dishes throughout Italy. “Even the prosciutto varies by region. We know at least 10 major regional brands, such as Parma, San Daniele, Carpegna and Cuneo. All at the top in their own region.” Eating local could have been invented in Italy.
Quality over price
Paolo Valugani notes that people in Italy have started paying more attention to costs in recent times. Nevertheless, quality remains a top priority. Prices come second. “In some European countries, the price of a product sometimes seems paramount. Taste and origin are much less important. This is impossible to explain to Italians. Fortunately, the “passion for food” trend is also emerging in many European countries. With origin as an important criterion. “Local, sustainable and high-quality can no longer be ignored. “
The European Green Deal and its circular economy place the focus even more on origin and the quality of production. It is about the most effective possible reuse of materials and raw materials. Companies everywhere are looking for ways to prevent the waste of valuable products or materials. Also in animal husbandry.
“One of the most important heritage that we got from Expo Milano 2015 is the connection between quality and sustainability of the food industry. A good example is the reuse of non-consumed foodstuffs for animal feed. Destroying or burning them is the opposite of sustainable production. Fortunately, we are increasingly looking at the sustainable aspects of animal nutrition. We are aware that together we must ensure a sustainable production pyramid. The passion for high quality and sustainability in food for people at the top of that pyramid must also be visible in the passion for animal nutrition in the other parts of the production chain. We must develop this sustainable pyramid. Together with the compound feed industry, livestock farmers, the slaughter and processing sector and retail.”
As an example for a step in the construction of a sustainable production pyramid, Paolo Valugani quotes the gradual reintroduction of processed animal proteins (PAPs) in Europe. PAPs are made from by-products of slaughtered animals that are intended for human consumption, but cannot be used directly as meat. They undergo processing so that safe and high-quality proteins remain. Ideal for animal feed.
“They are a clever example of circular production of raw materials for animal feed, which can be well and sustainably implemented within Europe. Naturally safe, with strict controls and reliable analysis methods. Circular economy in its optimum form. ”
Advantages of PAPs
Companies and organisations in other parts of the animal production chain also see the pluses of these PAPs, says Valugani. The Italian food authorities also believe that PAPs are useful in animal nutrition. Valugani realises that not everyone within and especially outside the production chains is convinced of the benefits of raw materials such as PAPs. Nevertheless, Valugani sees that sustainability must and will receive more and more attention.
“Consumers don’t know all the ins and outs of it. That is not necessary. They do want to be informed. We can explain our share well. The parties in the production chain are jointly responsible for this. Consumers understand that many animals such as shrimps, fish, poultry and pigs naturally cannot do without animal proteins, such as PAPs. They also understand that we should waste as little as possible for a circular economy, producing feed with low carbon impact ingredients and at the same time reducing our dependency from other protein sources actually importing from outside EU. In fact, our Italian passion for food also applies to animal feed: quality, origin and sustainability.”
Paolo Valugani (1979) is responsible for legislation and regulations at Alberio S.p.A., animal by-products processing plant in Cirimido, in the Province of Como in the Italian region Lombardia.