Rip-off Italian products can ‘no longer be tolerated’

Nutella have tried, unsuccessfully, to get a Belgian supermarket to take a similar product off the shelves. [S Smith/Flickr]

An Italian MEP has urged the European Commission to crack down on ‘Italian sounding’ products that pose a threat to his country’s valuable artisanal food industry. EURACTIV Italy reports.

MEP Nicola Danti (S&D group) has called upon the European executive to put a stop to unfair business and trade practices and present a proposal for a legislative framework that would ensure EU rules are applied consistently across the bloc.

“The Italian-sounding phenomenon, the impact of which amounts to around €70 billion a year, can no longer be tolerated,” he added.

This comes in the wake of a new ‘Made in Italy’ controversy, where Ferrero, the Italian confectionary giant, launched a legal battle against Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize, as it believes that its Nutella brand is being damaged by Delhaize’s own ‘Choco’ hazelnut spread product. Ferrero also accused the Belgian outlet of using a marketing campaign that discredits Nutella.

Brussels’ commercial court rejected Ferrero’s accusations, arguing that the use of the ‘choco’ term is not subject to regulation and that it is merely intended to denote the taste of the product, despite not actually containing any chocolate.

Ferrero had demanded that fines be levied at Delhaize for each infringement.

MEPs demand geographical protection for artisanal products

A majority of MEPs has asked the Commission to extend the European system of geographical indications to artisanal products to Bohemian Crystal. This protection currently only exists for food products. EURACTIV France reports

The dispute calls to mind a recent case in which Belgian agricultural producers LAVA were accused by MEPs Paolo De Castro and Mara Bizzotto of doing serious damage to Italian farmers and growers, by cultivating San Marzano tomatoes.

Italy demands EU protection for tomatoes

On top of an increase in imports of Tunisian olive oil, Italy is also worried about competition from Moroccan tomato growers. EURACTIV Italy reports.


The European Commission clarified that the San Marzano variety “can be grown outside of the defined geographical area and is not an exclusive right of Italian producers”.

The so-called Italian sounding concept is a term that has been coined to describe products that attempt to hijack the good reputation and associated qualities of established brands or products such as Parmesan or Parma ham, normally through a misleading name or similar packaging.

Subscribe to our newsletters