Paola Guida works for ICE , the Italian Trade Promotion Agency, which is the government organisation that promotes the internationalisation of Italian companies, in line with the strategies of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development. In addition to its Rome headquarters, ICE operates worldwide from a large network of Trade Promotion Offices linked to Italian embassies and consulates and works closely with local authorities and businesses.
How does the promotional work of ICE translate for Italian wineries who wish to export to Asia? What are you doing to support them?
The Italian Trade Agency – ICE is the Government agency that supports the globalization of Italian firms, implementing the strategies of the Ministry of Economic Development. We work very closely with the Italian Regions, the network of the Italian Chambers of Commerce, business organizations and other public and private entities.
We provide small scale services, such as linking up Italian wine producers with local operators, hosting wine tasting events and business matching services. We also provide promotional services, such as participation in international exhibitions, with Italy Pavilion in e.g. Vinexpo / HKIW&SF.
What are the main guidelines of ICE’s promotional strategy for Italian wines in Asia?
ICE provides information, support and consultancy to Italian SMEs on foreign markets, promoting and fostering exports and cooperation in all areas. We help to develop, facilitate and promote Italian economic and trade relations with foreign countries, focusing on the needs of SMEs, their associations and partnerships.
We also emphasize on the educational side. We have a project named Vino in Cina, which is an education program to sommeliers, wine experts, journalists and professionals from the Greater China. It is important to introduce Italian wines to Chinese customers as they are not fully aware of the huge diversity that the wide range of Italian grape varieties can bring along.
Is the help of ICE for export matters mainly required by individual wineries or regional wine bodies?
Both. We receive enquiries from individual wineries to associations/regional wine bodies. We try our best to assist all levels, mainly SMEs to promote ‘Made in Italy’ products.
Which actions does ICE plan to do in favour of Italian wineries during Vinexpo Hong Kong 2016?
ICE will organize a country pavilion. This year we will also have an area focusing on the Southern Italy regions – Campania, Calabria, Apulia and Sicily. Seminars will be organized to give visibility to the best wines showcased in our pavilion and to provide a great chance for visitors of the fair to taste these wines.
The educational side is still prominent, as there will be 6 educational wine tasting seminars. The speakers will be experts from Italy and from Hong Kong (including Ms. Debra Meiburg MW and Mr. Nelson Chow).
As side-events of Vinexpo, we will organize wine presentations in collaboration with local Italian wine importers to introduce Italian wines to the professionals & end-user, assisted by renowned wine masters.
Which other actions does ICE organize throughout the year to promote Italian wines and wineries in Asia?
We participate in international wine exhibitions, such as FHC China and Vinexpo. From 2014 we are more focused on promoting wines of less-known regions, esp. Southern Italy. Along with the fairs we also have a number of side events. We did a number of Fashion & Wine Nights as side events of other exhibitions and promotional programmes. We have invited a master of wine to talk about Italian wines, diversifying the possibility of wine matching, not only to food but also to something fashionable.
We organize joint events with different Hong Kong education bodies and associations, such as the Vocational Training Council of Hong Kong, Institute for Tourism Studies of Macau.
Over the years we have organized a large number of missions to bring Hong Kong experts to Italy to explore different Italian wineries.
What role does Italian food play in the promotion of Italian wines in foreign markets and in Asia in particular?
In Hong Kong, Italian wines are mainly distributed in restaurants and bars. People do enjoy Italian wine pairing with Italian food, as they perfectly complement one another. However this can be a disadvantage because actually with the diversity of Italian wines, they can pair also perfectly with the rich tastes of the wide variety Chinese cuisine. We would like to give support to increase the number of Italian wines in wine lists of Chinese and international restaurants.
What was the biggest promotional success for Italian wines that ICE has realized so far?
Being the country of honour of Vinexpo 2016. It is a recognition of the great quality of Italian wines.
Why is Vinexpo an important platform for ICE to promote Italian wines?
Vinexpo is the biggest and most well-known wine exhibition in Asia. It is recognized as an event of quality wines. Therefore it is an important platform for Italian exhibitors to be able to reach buyers and importers of different countries, to further promote “Made in Italy” wines.