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In the last few years the Italian flower and ornamental plant sector has been characterized by a significant dynamicity, becoming one of the most important sectors of the Italian agricultural system. In terms of competitiveness, however, the above sector has faced several market crises due to the globalization process which has produced has brought about an increasing supply of flower and ornamentals in the world market. In a national context, Mezzogiorno is an important area in terms of production source for flowers and ornamental plants, in relation to both extremely favorable climatic conditions and specific economic situations which positively affect profitability of firms operating in some productive sub-sectors (e.g., the ornamental plant sector). The paper points out the apparent growth signs of the Mezzogiorno flower and ornamental plant sector, though its contribution to the specialization of agrofood products is still marginal. Within the single items belonging to chapter 6 “Living trees and flowers”, the analysis carried out shows a specialization in the category of live plants as a consequence of a growing demand of such products from foreign markets. The competitiveness analysis has pointed out that these Italian regions are characterized by a strong comparative advantage mainly with some countries of the Balkans area (Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Erzegovina and Croatia), and with some EU countries (Romania, Greece, Malta and France). A heavy competitive disadvantage comes up with the Netherlands and, less important, with Thailand, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. Among the main factors which affect the competitive performance of Mezzogiorno regions, it is clear that a crucial role is played both by farm pulverisation, which limits the development and the implementation of new productive technologies, and by an inefficiency of the distributive system. A strategy which certainly needs to be carried out is the adoption of high qualitative standards in order to reach new and important markets, particularly those characterized by high presence of rich consumption segments.


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