Italian Food's Growing Popularity in the U.S.

Americans haven't had enough: their appetite for Italian food is still on the rise

Flickr/ Sally Austin
Many Americans have proven their willingness to travel far off the beaten track for some great Italian food.

Marguerite La Corte, a global trend tracker and product antropologist for the food & beverage industry, enjoys going to well known gourmet shops such as Citarella in New York City and going to off-the-beaten path to places in far-flung neighborhoods to buy special items like mortadella and prosciutto di Parma. She loves Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and she drinks Lavazza coffee.

La Corte is one example of how Americans haven't satisfied their appetite for Italian food. In 2013, Italian imported food in the U.S. rose seven percent to $4 billion (which $1.6 billion is the wine sector), more than the double of U.S. food imports' average (which is three percent), according to ICE, Italian Trade Commission of New York City.

The surge in Italian food imports is due to the fact that Americans have become more health conscious and have realized that Italian products are not only good, but also very healthy.

"The increase is due to the fact that consumers have gained some sort of educational food knowledge for them to fall in love with Italian products," said Lucio Caputo, president of the Italian Wine and Food Institute of New York City.

In addition, genuiness and freshness have become the significant keys for consumers. This has helped the imports of particular products a lot, and Italian food commands the market share with more than 50 percent, in areas such as oil, cheese, and pasta.

In fact, pasta (with 30.2 percent in the sector) is the leading import, along with the olive oil (with 50.2 percent of the market) and with cheese that reached the 26.7 percent. During the fiscal years 1998-2007, according to the Department of Commerce, Italy and France were the two top cheese sources for the U.S.

"Americans want Italian pasta, especially those that have different colors," said John Blount, owner of Italian Harvest located in San Francisco, who has been importing Italian food since 2000. "They also love white pasta that has different shapes because they find them to be more amusing."

In addition, Italian pasta has good quality because it is made of selected grains.



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