"In the US it is easy to find produce with Italian flags on it, even though it is not produced in Italy," protests Italian agricultural minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio.

"We are trying to develop a global strategy to defend our foods on international markets", explains Signor Scanio of his government’s planned marketing and PR drive to curtail the worldwide popularity of quasi-Italian foods.

The ad campaign, which will feature special DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) labeling to identify bona fide Italian foods, aims to educate consumers to spot the difference between local upstarts and the real McCoy.

Before any advertising breaks, however, the first stage is to assure the quality of products awarded the DOP seal. "Once the best foods are labeled as such, we can go about informing foreign customers that they should look out for the seal," said Signor Scanio.

The Ministry of Agriculture cites cases where inaccurate local labeling is used on products as diverse as Parma ham, Parmesan cheese and Chianti wine. The initiative so far has no formal budget, and the groundwork is being funded from the ministry's general fund.

News source: Advertising Age - International Daily