Representatives of the Italian wine trade in the UK have agreed to go out to Italy later this year to meet representatives of the Italian wine-producing regions to put forward the case for regional funding for a generic Italian wines marketing campaign. This was the outcome of the Anglo-Italian Liaison Meeting hosted by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association Italian Wines Committee last Wednesday (29 June).

Those present included representatives from the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Federvini, the Italian Wine Union, the Italian Growers' Union, Legacoop, the Italian Trade Commission Head Office in Rome and also the London office, along with members of the WSTA Italian Wines Committee.

Among the discussions held were the current market situation and the potential threat of market share erosion for Italy. The Italian Trade Commission confirmed that an umbrella generic marketing concept called "Origine" was produced in 2003. This has so far struggled to gain acceptance from the individual regions. They also confirmed there was no funding for wine from central Government for the UK market in 2005. However, the regions have funds and are spending on sporadic and unfocussed trade activity, which has failed to engender the positive image of 'Brand Italy' with consumers, the WSTA said.

Pierpaolo Petrassi, chairman of the WSTA Italian Wines Committee, said: "The intense passion which the trade feels about the opportunities for Italian wines was evident during the meeting in the pleas of Angela Mount and Jane Hunt MW. However, time and again discussions focussed on the need for a generic campaign to inform consumers and reinforce the quality image of Italian wine."

Recent changes to the Italian constitution mean potential funding is diverted through the regions. Therefore, the WSTA believes that the only option is to persuade the regions to act together to develop a wider, more consistent campaign focussing on the consumer.

Both the UK and Italian delegations agreed that a meeting would take place in late summer 2005 between representatives of the UK trade and all the Italian wine-producing regions. The combined financial support of these entities would be sufficient to create a focussed campaign for Italian wine in the UK market for the benefit of all producers, importers, retailers and consumers. "Meeting the Italian regional representatives face-to-face may be the breakthrough we have been seeking for a number of years," Petrassi added.