Shipments of Italian pasta, tomatoes, olive oil and prosciutto to the UK have plummeted as a result of the red tape, it was claimed. Italian pasta exports to the UK slumped by 28 percent in the first five months of this year. Exports of extra virgin olive oil also fell by 13 percent, tomato sauce and tinned tomatoes by 16 percent and cheese by nine percent.
Italian farmers’ group Coldiretti blamed soaring transport costs for the slump in exports to the UK.
They said lorries loaded with Italian foods were held up by Brexit-related customs red tape.
Coldiretti said: “This is caused by bureaucratic and administrative problems due to the UK leaving the European Union.”
Exports of Italian food to the UK are normally worth around £2.9billion a year.
Lorenzo Bazzana, Coldiretti’s economic officer, said he expected overall trade in 2021 to fall.
“It’s a problem because the UK is Italy’s fourth-largest export destination after Germany, France and the US,” he said.
But despite the alarm, producers of prosecco sparkling wine say their exports to the UK are up.
Trade figures show a slight dip in prosecco exports to the UK, but producers have claimed that supermarket chain Aldi is storing the Italian wine in Belgium and then re-exporting it to the UK.
Including those bottles in the statistics, exports are up, they claim.
Mr Bazzana, however, warned that food exports were genuinely falling and expressed concern that Britons could turn to “fake” Italian products from the US.
“The British need to watch out for Italian oil and parmesan with an Italian flag on the label which actually comes from America,” he said.
Coldiretti campaigns against products that appear Italian to the untrained eye.
The US is considered the world’s biggest offender in the market for imitating Italian produce.
“Produce pretending to be Italian is worth €100billion in sales a year globally, double the real food and drink coming from Italy,” Mr Bazzana said.
Brexit: EU warned of ‘water war’ in revenge for sausage row [ANALYSIS]
Why has Poland declared state of emergency? [INSIGHT]
Hilary Mantel slammed for calling Brexit voters ‘callow opportunists’ [REACTION]
“Now the UK might become a Trojan horse in Europe, a gateway to Italy for fake Italian food.
“Before Brexit, we could ask the UK to crack down on fake Italian foods but now it is out of the EU we cannot, hence our fears things could turn for the worse there.
“We have already seen it happen in Russia, where the moment sanctions stopped Italian food arriving, Russian parmesan, complete with the Italian flag, appeared in stores.”