Think of an Italian village and you’re likely to imagine a shop with the best of locally crafted food—cheeses, meats, and the like from artisan producers. Life is as it has been for centuries; supermarkets and the Internet age are just a distant memory.
But according to the Guardian
, this isn’t the case at all. Finding that Italians are increasingly flocking to fast food, grocery stores, and cheaper alternatives—rather than buying from the meat curers, truffle-hunters, or cheesemongers among them—those more traditional producers are looking to find a larger market, in what may seem the most unlikely of places: The Internet.
Such as the trio of Lake Como artisans that Michael Fitzpatrick meets, who set up a website of gastronomic delights called Piaceri d’Italia
, selling their products to a much, much wider audience.
On my own journey through Puglia
, I experienced a similar phenomenon: small-scale producers angling for a global reach. Even the smallest olive oil farms we visited, miles and miles from the nearest major city, often had publicity materials, PR representatives, and websites to promote their brands—making use of twenty-first century marketing techniques in a business that has remained essentially unchanged for hundreds of years.
Will embracing the Internet make a difference? On the one hand, these producers are opening themselves up to a much wider market; on the other, they meet worldwide competition, often from larger entities who can produce and ship at lower cost. The farther afield one strays, the harder it can be to generate brand recognition and customer loyalty. The Internet is a valuable marketplace, but a crowded one, too.