That's amore!

by Lynn Petrak
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Apple pie may be all-American, but increasingly, Americans have a taste for “la dolce vita,” at least when it comes to imported baked desserts now merchandised on store shelves alongside made-in-the-USA products.

The growing presence of authentic Italian desserts reflects that penchant for authentic flavors and products. According to a study conducted last year by the Italian Trade Association (ITA), goods produced in Italy comprise 5% of all products imported to the US, most of that in wine and packaged foods including baked goods. Many supermarkets, such as the Mariano’s chain that’s part of Milwaukee-based Roundy’s (recently acquired by Kroger), are partnering with ITA to scout and bring in foods from Italy to their stores, including desserts such as cakes, cookies and pastries.

Italian companies that provide bakery products and sweets for the US market continue to add to their offerings, too.  Italian cake and pastry company Bauli USA, Inc., with US offices in New York, recently introduced new mini panettone and mini pandoro desserts and re-launched its line of mini croissants. AG Ferrari Foods, Alameda, CA, also recently added a mini panettone from one of its Italian suppliers Bonifanti.

Balconi SpA, which produces sponge cake-based products including snacks, cakes and rolled cakes, has likewise increased its presence and offerings in the US market, including a new Choco Dessert and Tiramisu.  “We do sell all our cakes and snack cakes all over the States, to local and regional chains like Stop and Shop, Shoprite and from New York stores to Chicago and Los Angeles. We cover both the kids’ and adults’ needs,” said Fabio Terreni, export director, Balconi.

Terreni stated that American consumers like the authenticity of imported bakery products. “Italian food and flavors are requested and appreciated, from the Italian appetizers to desserts, among which, one of the preferred by American consumers is the tiramisu, our best-selling cake all over the world,” he said. The healthier living style of Italians is another selling point, and Balconi’s shelf-stable products do not contain trans fats, added colors or preservatives, he added.
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