MedDiet: The Two Sides of the Mediterranean Meet at the Dinner Table
The first project for the promotion of the Mediterranean Diet kicks off.
Italy is the leader of the six countries involved, with a budget of €5 million as part of a Euro-Mediterranean Agreement involving 15,000 consumers and 5,000 children and young adults
Rome, May 24, 2013 - After UNESCO's recognition of the Mediterranean Diet as an intangible cultural heritage, this diet is now, for the first time, the focus of a European project which, over the course of thirty months, will involve six Mediterranean countries: Italy, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon.
The leader of the initiative is Unioncamere, in partnership with the Promotional Services Office of the Cagliari Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of the “Città dell'Olio”, the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, and nine other partners from the various countries involved.
Officially introduced yesterday in Rome, the “MedDiet – Mediterranean Diet and Promotion of Traditional Products” strategic project has obtained the funding of European Union within the ENPI CBC Med, with a total budget of nearly €5 million, and will last thirty months, starting on January 1, 2013.
Various initiatives are planned, all aimed at increasing awareness of the Mediterranean Diet as an integral part of a lifestyle, one which, according to UNESCO, is made up of “a set of skills, knowledge, practices, and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table”, including products from the land and sea, which end up on our supper tables. But that's not all. The Mediterranean Diet also “promotes social interaction (…) and has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales, and legends”. It is truly a way of life, deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of a territory whose strength is found in its many traditional culinary products; products which also have a great economic value. The goal of the promoters is to sign, at the end of the project, a Euro-Mediterranean Agreement for the promotion and safeguard of the Mediterranean Diet which also encourages other southern Mediterranean countries to adopt and share, at the European Level, these safeguards, thanks to which the EU currently boasts 1,147 guaranteed products, 251 of which Italian.
“The real strength of this project,” emphasized Ferruccio Dardanello, Unioncamere president, “is in partnership: a web of networks which involves the “città dell'olio”, the Italian Chambers of Commerce Abroad, those in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Ionian regions, in Beirut and in Mount Lebanon, in Messenia, and in Tunisia, trade associations, and research institutes. The network is a strategic element in the organization of the project's agenda and in increasing the scope of the events and the activities which will be organized to include millions of consumers and businesses, as well as the political institutions of the entire Mediterranean basin.”
In order to communicate the extraordinary wealth and variety of the Mediterranean Diet and to promote its traditional food/wine products, MedDiet will organize:
The six countries involved in the MedDiet project (Italy, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Egypt) have shown substantial population growth in recent decades, arriving at 218 million inhabitants in 2012. The GNP has also been rising steadily, from $175 billion in 1970, to over $4,300 billion in 2012. The growth in the work force is similarly impressive: from 71 million workers in 2000, the figure has grown to 88 million in 2012, with estimates for 2020 equal to over 94 million workers. With an import/export trade which reached a value of $879 billion in 2012, the six MedDiet countries are responsible for nearly 5% of all international trade.
Due to the high opinion which consumers worldwide have for the Mediterranean Diet, the food/wine sector definitely represents the flagship of the six MedDiet countries. Italy, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia are responsible for 7.4% of the total worldwide food/wine imports, thanks to the more than $102 billion exported in 2011. The corresponding value at the end of the last century was equal to $33 billion, or one third of the current value. The financial trends of the first few years of the new millennium were slightly inferior to the worldwide average (+206% vs. +226%), which allowed the competitive advantage previously registered to be preserved. This is all at a time of profound redefinition in the geo-economic equilibrium which, in other sectors and industries, has posed quite a challenge to the competitive hold of the countries surveyed.
With regards to incoming foreign direct investments, or rather the attraction of capital to new or already-existent businesses present in the territory, the 2011 value, equal to over $64 billion, has grown as compared to 2009 (approximately $46 billion). Nonetheless, it is still a long way from the value at the end of 2007, when $127 billion incoming was equal to 6.4% of the cumulative FDI worldwide (today it is equal to only 4.2%).