Demand for Italian foodstuffs in Asia is increasing but unfortunately many consumers turn to Italian sounding products when they cannot find the "originals". This emerged from a study by Assocamere analysing 600 products in China (Hong Kong, Beijing), South Korea (Seoul), Japan (Tokyo), India (Mumbai), Singapore (Singapore), Thailand (Bangkok) and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City).
The category worst hit by the "Italian-sounding phenomenon" is condiments, with 26.8% of products evoking authentic Made in Italy produce while actually being counterfeits. Second place is taken by frozen foods and ready-to-eat meals (19.6%), followed by pasta (19.1%). Dairy products account for 17.5%. Italian cheese is far from common on the local market in China yet still gives way to “Parmesan-like” products imported from the USA. Hong Kong is the location where low-price fake pasta peaks, costing 71% less than comparable authentic products.
The most popular Italian-sounding condiments in Asia include "Ragu Pizza Sauce", a meat sauce that does not actually contain any meat, a pesto sauce made with thyme and rosemary instead of basil and even Modena balsamic vinegar made in Germany.
Some consumers choose counterfeit products because they cannot afford the originals but in many cases difficulties in obtaining genuine Italian food helps the fake-phenomenon proliferate. To counter the Italian-sounding scam, institutional campaigns such as “True Italian Taste” promoted and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation must be backed up by the availability of genuine and authentic Italian foodstuffs on tables in Asia.