The Italian freelance food journalist Sandra Salerno is a consultant and founder of "Un Tocco di Zenzero"; a blog that describes the latest trends regarding food and closely follows the latest developments on the perception of food. We asked her about the food trends in 2019 and the experience of veal in the country where ‘vitello tonnato’ and ‘saltimbocca’ are on almost every menu.
What were the food trends for 2019?
“A clear trend this year has been greater awareness with regard to meat eating. Consumers and stakeholders have a preference for producers who are prepared to conduct research and who devote themselves first and foremost to protecting the welfare of the animals.”
How are calf and veal products generally considered in Italy? How do you see this in the future? And how can the VanDrie Group cater for this?
“Interest in veal has declined substantially in recent years and consumers are increasingly avoiding it. Thanks to promotion and the use of veal by some chefs, this meat is now making a comeback. The consumption will definitely change because people are opting mainly for quality rather than quantity. Italians are putting less meat on the table, but the meat is of better quality. I think that the VanDrie Group must, above all, be clear to the end user about the way in which the animals are kept and about the welfare of the animals.”
So animal welfare and sustainability are becoming increasingly important themes in Italy. Which groups are talking about this?
“In recent years, everybody has been talking about this, both in newspapers and in blogs, but also on important culinary and gastronomical websites. The views and opinions among Italians about livestock farming, especially intensive livestock breeding, are changing. It will still take some time, but change is underway. If companies want to continue selling their products, they will have to take these factors into account.”
Transparency and traceability are becoming increasingly important. How could the VanDrie Group improve communication to consumers?
“Nowadays, the consumer wants to know how the animals are kept and what their quality of life is before they are slaughtered. The knowledge that an important company like the VanDrie Group takes this into account can only be seen as positive.”
Which veal dishes are most commonly found on the menu in Italian restaurants? And which veal dish is your favourite?
“There are many different veal dishes in Italy, such as ‘vitello tonnato’ (veal slices with tuna sauce), ‘saltimbocca alla romana’ (veal scallop with ham and sage, braised in white wine), veal strips with white wine and sage, and raw veal ‘all'Albese’ (veal carpaccio with extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese). I personally love vitello tonnato and here in Turin there are various restaurants that can make this exceptionally well.”