Insights on the Italian Cuisine Sector Give Food for Thought

Published on Apr 6, 2023

Updated on May 19, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

Italy attracts millions of tourists every year, and while there are many things to love about this Mediterranean country, one does stand out: Italian food. As Lightcast's Milan-based team often remind those of us working in other parts of Europe and the rest of the globe, if you want to get a taste of the best food on earth, you've got to come to Italy. 

Although our French colleagues of course disagree with this, it can't be denied that Italy is home to some of the world’s most loved foods - those that tourists travel thousands of miles for. Despite its many replications in restaurants across the world, there is no place like home.

Being such a significant part of Italian culture, and so rich in tradition, there is no wonder that food services play an important role in Italy’s economic growth. And it’s not all about food services, but food manufacturing too. Many world-renowned Italian food brands have a premium spot on supermarket shelves across the globe. From Nutella and Ferrero, to Barilla and Giovanni Rana - the Italian food manufacturing sector has been bearing fruit for decades. 

But how does this translate to new jobs, skills, and regional growth? What actually are the impacts of these industries in Italy, and where are they most prevalent? Lightcast analysed our granular European labour market data to find out. 

Food manufacturing vs. food services: who’s rolling in the dough?

Italy is the second largest manufacturing country in Europe. The undeniable popularity of Italian food brands makes us think that food manufacturing would play a central role in today’s job market. However, figures show a very different picture. As of December 2022, only 0.60% of all job postings in Italy were related to this sector. 

Food services, however, are far more popular. As of December 2022, food services-related job postings accounted for 3.37% of all job postings in Italy. It seems that the food manufacturing sector isn’t as active as we would assume, but food services definitely occupy a much stronger position. 

A big driver of this is tourism. With nearly 27 million visitors in 2021, Italy’s thriving tourism sector empowers the food services sector too, as tourists tend to eat out and explore Italian cuisine more than Italian residents would. 

Food services is also a much more seasonal sector, with higher churn, so recruitment is more active. The same can’t be said about food manufacturing. Plus, Italian workers tend to stick to their jobs for a longer period, which may be another reason why food manufacturing is less active. 

Comparing these Italian sectors to other European markets, we can see that Italy is bottom of the list for food manufacturing, but takes second place in food & beverage services, being topped only by France. This goes in line with our earlier findings, and the conclusion that food services really is the sector that’s rolling in the dough in Italy. 

Which are the leading regional markets for these sectors?

Drilling down into Italian regions - the leading region for food manufacturing is Lombardy, with 19.71% of all food manufacturing job postings in Italy being advertised by employers based in this area. 

The other top spots are taken by Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, accounting for 17.24% and 13.55% of all food manufacturing job postings in Italy, respectively. These regions are home to some world-renowned brands. For instance, the food company Barilla, widely known for its pasta and pasta sauces, is based in Emilia-Romagna, so it makes sense that job postings for food manufacturing are higher in this area. 

The Italian region taking the smallest percentage of food manufacturing job postings is Valle d'Aosta, with only 0.09%. It is followed by Molise and Basilicata, with 0.13% and 0.16% respectively. 

Interestingly, the figures for the food services industry are very similar: Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna take the first spots, while Molise, Basilicata and Valle d’Aosta are bottom of the list. These three regions where food services are not as active are less touristic

And what skills are required to work in these sectors?

The most in-demand specialised skill for food manufacturing is food packaging, followed by beverage products and production line skills. While this certainly doesn’t come as a surprise - the frequency of these skills requirements in job postings is actually quite low. Food packaging only appears in 7.76% of all Italian job postings. 

When it comes to food services, the most sought-after specialised skill is tourism, present in 11.65% of all Italian job postings. Other popular specialised skills include accounting, call centre experience and beverage products. 

Many of these specialised skills are actually common to both food manufacturing and food services in Italy, such as purchasing, point of sale, accounting and beverage products. Even the demand for them is often fairly similar. For instance, beverage products is mentioned in 7.58% of food manufacturing job postings and 6.49% of food services job postings in Italy. 

This shows that there are a number of transferable skills between the two industries, so employees that work in food manufacturing may be well-equipped, skills-wise, to work in food services too. The skills gaps that do exist could be filled by upskilling workers.

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"It is absolutely true that Italy is the best place in the world for food. Everyone in our Milan team could tell you that. But whether you're in Italy or not, and whether you're looking to understand the food industry or any other sector, Lightcast data will help you understand the skills in that country and that market, so you can take a truly data-driven approach to planning your strategy and crucial decision-making."

Whether you're a business looking to implement a truly skills-led approach to your workforce planning; a regional development agency seeking to understand the skills in your region; or an education provider looking to understand the skills you need to be teaching to help your students become more employable - we have the data you need.

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