Interview with Ms Gina Aquino - Calabria introduces its excellences to the Russian market


Ms Gina Aquino, Head of the Internationalisation Department – Presidency Office of Regione Calabria, is responding to some of the most asked questions on this amazing region spreading the word every day more, Calabria.

Please click here to read the interview in Russian.

What does the Regione Calabria’s internationalisation sector do?

The activity fielded by Regione Calabria to promote the internationalisation of the regional economic system is wide and various and includes different kinds of actions aimed at facilitating the internalisation of small-medium enterprises head-quartered in Calabria.

Regione Calabria operates through the concession of incentives to support specific projects of investment promoted by single companies or networks of companies, who stand behind promotional programs for the involvement of different local sectors in international fairs, with the final objective of empowering their action possibilities in extra-regional markets. Furthermore, companies have access to a “package” of integrated services, offered by the “Internationalisation Desk”, which includes:

  • support for the participation in international missions and exhibitions;
  • organization of meetings with foreign buyers;
  • education and specialized assistance on transversal themes.

Regione Calabria generally covers most of the costs that local companies have to face in the all along their internationalisation processes, in witness of the willingness to break down the economic obstacles and engage as many companies as possible in this kind of activities.

The necessity of maximising the actions’ effectiveness, making full use of all synergies and finding additional resources, led Regione Calabria to stipulate long-time deals and conventions with both regional and foreign chambers of commerce, with ICE and other public entities in Italy and overseas.

Finally, in the last few months, an “Observatory” was founded, with the principal functions of:

  • making local companies aware of the characteristics, the dynamics and the potential of foreign markets;
  • being by companies’ side in their opening up to the international panorama;
  • helping the Administration of Regione Calabria to make more effective investment choices, in order to optimise the competitive positioning of the regional productive sectors.

For the 2017/2018 biennium, the economic effort fielded by Regione Calabria amounts to 10 million euros.

What should agri-food companies do to export effectively?

The low volume of exports generated by Calabrian companies is partly caused by structural factors, such as small production units, short supply chains and low level of specialisation, but it’s also the result of operative obstacles in overcoming the typical entry barriers of foreign markets and facing effectively the international competition. These operative obstacles mainly refer to a weakness in market know-how, communication, commercial human resources, abilities for promoting the territorial identity.

Today, the participation in events and sectoral fairs represents one of the main marketing instruments for agri-food companies in their respective expansion programs, since it’s always an important opportunity of verifying their supply receptiveness in the reference market. The restricted offer in terms of depth and size it’s the determining element to create wide commercial networks and distribution platforms realised with the involvement of international buyers.

The difficulties in accessing specific technical competences to police the business functions related to research, innovation, distribution and marketing keep on representing the principle barrier to internationalization.

In this field, it is necessary to strengthen specific educational and formational paths - rationalising the existing ones and identifying new needs – connecting them with internships and supporting the creation of networks with centres of excellence, university and other educational institutions. The objective must be the one of developing and empowering the specific competencies required to make full use of the business opportunities in foreign markets and guarantee the effective management of processes related to export, international marketing, international contracts, logistics and so on.

What about the actions implemented by Regione Calabria in respect to marketing and communication?

An essential element to guarantee the effectiveness of the internationalization policies is the integrated image of the “Calabria system”, which allows to:

  • promote and enhance the identity of the land and its products of excellence in both traditional and emerging markets;
  • strengthen the regional identity at food and wine level;
  • support the entrepreneurial system in the development of an organized approach to international markets.

Defining a homogeneous picture of Calabria and creating a general “Calabria brand”, which gives uniformity and recognisability to regional products, is the primary objective of the marketing strategy fielded by Regione Calabria. This activity must be enhanced with the development of specific portals and web platforms, in order to make the agri-food value of Calabria more perceivable.

At the same time, in the next months, Regione Calabria will realise consistent investments in media communication (implementation of contents in support of the promotion activities, media campaigns and advertisements, promotional videos, e-brochures etc.), in order to put in place a coordinated communication strategy.

What about the strategies for the future positioning of Regione Calabria?

The challenge we want to throw down is making Calabria a fully-fledged protagonist in the international context, enhancing vocations and strengths, including – above others – the typical productions of excellence. It is necessary to pursue a policy based on instruments and innovative actions, capable of encouraging openness and attractiveness. On the one hand, we need to help our local companies and our products to reach global markets and, on the other, we need to make our territory more attractive to foreign investments.

Our productive system must be supported continuously, in order to overcome the geographic obstacles and come into contact with international players. It is clear that in the global competition, winners are always territories with strong identities. The food and wine heritage represents a natural competitive advantage of our region and it’s necessary to develop a widespread and sustainable model, based not only on public funding and big events, but also on the innovative planning and reorganisation of our companies.

The food and wine industry has an enormous potential to make itself an attraction for investments and grow in both economic and occupational terms, but the projects with an international projection are still few. Food and wine, besides being a pleasant sensorial activity, is becoming more and more a factor of attraction and an instrument of touristic marketing. Food, in other words, becomes a meeting place between the land’s genuineness and the tourist, more and more eager of authentic proposals, strictly connected to the specific characteristics of the territory he visits. Modern consumers, especially in the food and wine field, are looking for products capable of satisfying needs of variety, novelty and high levels of genuineness, imposing on the offer side of the market policies of differentiation with due regard for high-quality standards.

The intimate bond between typical local products and their territory is strictly interconnected with the strategies of enhancement of those same products, that more and more are important instruments of communication and identity markers.

The exploitation of local products, then, has a meaning that goes beyond the simple commercialisation of consumer goods. It’s rather about the offer of complex experiences, built on food and wine resources, but enriched with intangible elements capable of stimulating and involving the sensorial side of consuming. The variety of the local food and wine resources and the connection between products and tradition allow identifying a series of complex products with a strong potential for development.

On the basis of these arguments, the strategy of Regione Calabria is aimed to:

  • enhance the food and wine vocation of the territory, focusing on new markets such as the Asian ones, and put in place a program for the requalification of the offer and the dimensional growth of the companies in the industry. The expected result is to reposition the regional system with regard to the new demand linked with genuineness and therapeutic value of food;
  • strengthen commercial relations, supporting and widening the ones with emerging markets, that present the best growth perspectives for the next few years;
  • support exports, indulging the current international scenario and its specific export processes and praxes.

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