52nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regions in Motion - Breaking the Path", 21-25 August 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia
Agri-food districts and PDO (protected designation of origin), PGI (protected geographical indication) and TSG (traditional specialty guaranteed) products are peculiarities of the Italian social and economic system. In fact, industrial districts are an Italian typical form of industrialization, which has been deeply studied by Italian scholars (e.g. G. Becattini, F. Sforzi, F. Signorini, S. Brusco). Moreover, Italy, with 235 brand products (88 PGI, 145 PDO and 2 TSG), is the European leader in terms of certified productions (23%), followed by France with 187 and Spain with 154 branded products. The linkage of these two Italian peculiarities brings to the agri-food districts reality. The growing number of analysis in this field (Qualivita 2011, Istat 2011) show the increasing interest in local quality products linked to the territory. Despite the recent economic crisis, those productions showed positive economic performances, with better results than low-quality food productions, especially with regards to the exportation (Edison foundation 2010, Ismea 2010, Istat 2011). The national Law 57 in 2001 instituted the "Quality Agri-food Districts". The aim of this paper is to identify of those important realities, using the specialization indexes of each district and the localization of geographical identified products. The first level of analysis identified only provinces that contain quality agri-food districts (QAD) with a share of employment greater than 10% of the area of reference. The following step is to study the 55 quality agri-food districts identified by Tagliacarne Institute (2004), using the previous cited specialization indexes. Moreover the impact of the crisis is studied to stress the opportunities of development of this specific sector. The different strategies of reaction to these specific conditions are also investigated, in order to understand if the positive externalities that have been defined as 'the district effect' (Signorini 1994, Fabiani and Pellegrini 1998) still persist. The analysis show a link both the provincial and quality agri-food districts level.The results could lead to new economic policies aimed to the development of those important realities, which are typical of the Italian economic system.