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Abstract

We study the performance over the last fifteen years of exports of typical, Made in Italy agri-food products. First, we estimate the aggregate elasticities of exports values with respect to world imports, export prices and the prices applied by our competitors. Second, we show that aggregate estimates hide very different values of the elasticities at the single product level. Third, we calculate an index of sophistication for each Made in Italy agri-food exports, capturing its position in the different layers of world supply, showing that Made in Italy agri-food exports are shifting towards higher levels of sophistication. Finally, we compare the elasticities with the changes in sophistication. Our results show that the strategy of Italian exporters varies according to the type of product and to the degree of market completion. In some cases, Italian exporters contrast increasing world competition by raising the quality of their products or their sophistication content; in other cases, price competition is chosen , by keeping AUVs at lower levels than those of our competitors. But in nearly all cases, these strategies are successful in allowing Italy to defend and sometimes even to increase its world market shares, in spite of a growing world competition.

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