Italian Parma ham figures for 2013, just like in the past few years, continue to be healthy. Sales at the end of year stood at €1.5 billion. This is despite the fact that overall, numbers in the cured ham sector seem to be dropping. Fortunately, most of the Parma ham that is produced in Italy is consumed locally – only about 28% is exported. The drop in revenues has not affected prices and market share. According to the president of Parma Ham Consortium, Paolo Tanara, the drop was caused by economic uncertainty in the EU. The market needs an increase in credit and more confidence from both entrepreneurs and consumers.
Fortunately, exports to international markets have done quite well, ensuring that Italian Parma ham producers continue to make profits. This is partly due to the fact that consumers have strong faith in protected products from Italy – it is symbolic of authenticity, quality as well as Italian tradition. 2.5 million hams were exported bring in about €237 billion. This is the fourth year in a row that exports of Parma ham continues to grow. The increase over the last few years has seen as many as 900,000 additional hams exported.
The biggest increase was in the EU with an additional 3% from last year. Germany bought 450,000 hams while France bought 420,000. The US continues to be a big consumer as well – they bought 500,000 hams. There were drops on some of the countries that have been big consumers in the past. The UK, Belgium and Japan imported less Italian Parma ham than they have in the past. That said, Australia was a welcome surprise – for the first time they imported 80,000 pieces. Russia imported 51% more hams than they did in the previous years making it the sharpest increase.
Although most of the hams are sold as whole pieces, there is a big market that prefers to have theirs pre-sliced. This has contributed greatly to the increase in exports. 1.4 millions hams were sliced and they made 73 million pre-sliced packs. This is a very significant improvement when compared to 2012. Of these, 26% were consumed in Italy which was a 4% drop from the previous year. Non-EU countries absorbed a big portion as well – Russia bought 550,000 packs, Japan 560,000, the US 2.5 million and Canada bought 350,000. The EU, it seems, doesn’t like their ham pre-sliced – they did not buy it in large numbers. That said, it should be noted that France bought 8 million packs.
What are the prospects for Parma ham sales in the future? So long as markets continue to stabilize there should be a steady increase in sales. As the Italian economy continues to recover we should expect to see higher numbers in the amount of ham that is sold locally. The EU should also buy more ham because over the overall stability that the region is enjoying. Overall, Parma ham producers in Italy, whether protected or not should expect to make money in the coming year.