Which countries import the most Italian Food products?

Italian food is enjoyed around the world. Wherever you go, Italian cuisine is never far from the top of the menu. Some countries, however, seem to enjoy Italian food more than others, importing disproportionally large amounts. Let’s take a look at which countries these are, and which products they’re buying up.

Italian food exports – The statistics

Italy exports a wide range of foodstuff, from fresh produce to the finest finished products. In determining which countries import the most Italian food, we’re going to focus on a particular band of products – those with certified geographical provenience as signified with the labels DOP, IGP, and STG. But first, what do these actually mean?


Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin). Products with this label are strictly tied to one geographical location. Each phase of production, from processing to packaging, has to occur in one place for a product to receive this label. Examples include the famous balsamic vinegar of Modena, or Prosciutto di Parma.


Indicazione Geografica Protetta (Protected Geographic Indication)

This label is slightly less strict than DOP. With IGP, only one phase of the production needs to be tied to a specific geographic location.


Specialità Tradizionale Garantita (Guaranteed traditional speciality)

This label is the least stringent and is used to distinguish artisanal products that rely on traditional methods of production.

Italy’s top food importers

The latest and most comprehensive data that’s currently available on Italian exports of DOP, IGP, and STG products is from a 2018 report, published jointly by ISMEA (The Italian institute for services to the food and agricultural industries) and Qualivita (The foundation for the protection and certification of DOP, IGP, and STG products). Here’s what the report has to say on Italy’s top food buyers.

#1 – Germany

In 2018, Germany accounted for a staggering 20% of Italian food products labelled as DOP, IGP, or STG. In terms of value, this amounted to around €700 million. According to other statistics, the most important Italian exports to Germany were wine and cured meats – the latter totalled almost €330 million in 2018.

#2 – USA

In second place, accounting for 17.9% of Italian food exports, is the United States of America. Italy is the second-largest exporter of food products to the USA, behind France, and whilst wine and cured meats are its valuable exports, gelato and bottled mineral water are ever-increasing. Whether this trend has continued since 2018 is yet to be seen in official statistics, however, especially given the tariffs the Trump administration has imposed on European products.

#3 – France

A culinary powerhouse of its own, France comes in at third place for importing Italian food products with a 14.6% share. Alongside a steady flow of wine, the French buy significant amounts of Italian cheeses – Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Grana Padano DOP, and Mozzarella di Bufula Campana DOP are amongst the favourites.

So, there we have it. Germany, the USA, and France import the most Italian food products. As exports continue to rise from Italy, despite punitive tariffs from the States and challenging economic conditions in Europe (especially with Brexit), this league of Italian-food-loving nations may change, but not for some time.

Wherever you are in the world if you’re currently sourcing Italian food products, get in contact with the Italian Food Experts. With decades of experience in the Italian food industry, our sector experts help international buyers source Italian food products with small and medium-sized producers in Italy – all for free.