LUNCHES INTRODUCE ITALIAN TASTES TO STATES

NEW YORK -- The Italian Trade Commission, with the Italian Ministry for Agricultural Policy, held two tastings and lunches for food writers last month to introduce 50 producers of premium Italian wines and food products to members of the trade in the United States. One tasting and luncheon was given in Dallas on June 18, and the other here three days later. The program, called Naturalmente Italiano,

NEW YORK -- The Italian Trade Commission, with the Italian Ministry for Agricultural Policy, held two tastings and lunches for food writers last month to introduce 50 producers of premium Italian wines and food products to members of the trade in the United States. One tasting and luncheon was given in Dallas on June 18, and the other here three days later. The program, called Naturalmente Italiano, was developed to assist small enterprises in making commercial contacts in the U.S.

"Because of their fine quality, these products deserve a place on American retailers' shelves, but their producers usually lack the resources necessary to enter a market many thousands of miles away. The Naturalmente Italiano helps them overcome that handicap," said Deputy Trade Commissioner Mario Iaccarino.

The Italian Trade Commission is a government agency that helps Italy's food and wine producers promote greater awareness of their products worldwide.

Iaccarino told a group of more than 100 at the Plaza Hotel in New York that during 2001, Italian wine was the largest category of Italian-produced food or beverage imported by the U.S., with $650 million in sales. And, in the first three months of 2002, sales increased by 27% over the year before.

The second-largest was olive oil, worth $274 million, which has a market share here of 73%.

In a talk called "How I Used to Pack My Suitcase," Arthur Schwartz, cookbook author and host of Food Talk on WOR radio here, spoke about "tiny, tasty" lentils and capers that he always packed in plastic bags when returning home. But, he said, visitors to Italy no longer need to do that, since almost everything is now available in the supermarket.