Environmental analysis: PEST

This article is about environmental analysis of the fishing industry in Italy. It focuses on the four factors of the PEST analysis: Political, Economical, Social and Technological.


P – Political

The fishing industry in Italy, as well as in Europe, is regulated by many laws. In the 70’s the European Union established a set of rules, applicable to all member States, called “Common Fisheries Policy”, whose last version was written in 2014. The law has been issued in order to promote equilibrium and sustainable fishing, in a direction of rational use of fishing resources. Moreover, the Mediterranean States have stipulated a cooperation to control the fishing in the Mediterranean sea. 

The Italian regulation system on this topic is supported and integrated by these international provisions. In particular, the intervention on Italian fishing industry has been reviewed in 2016. The main modifications regard the investments for increasing innovation and sustainable fishing, ensured also thanks the cooperation of the European bank for investments. One of the most important aim of the legislation concerns the protection of consumers: it compels entrepreneurs to provide transparent information about the quality and the traceability of the fishes. With this regard, the law sustains the promotion of national products and the environmental, social and economical preservation. The legislation regulates also collective contracts regarding the fishing sector, as well as associations and cooperatives of fishers. The fishing licence is valid for eight years through the payment of a tax. The provisions are different according to the type of fishing, in salty waters or sweet ones, and relating to what type of fishes you’re interested in: size and weight. The entrepreneurs can sell and deliver their catch in all the national area with their licence.

Moreover, mandatory rules regarding the labels in packaging or the selling places have been adopted; the last version was drawn up in 2014. The labels have to contain the denomination, or registered name of the product offered, the production method, the place in which the fish has been captured, the country of production and the price. If the products are prepared, ready to be cooked, frozen and packaged it is also necessary the packaging date, the expiry date, quantity, and the indication in case the fish has been defrost. If the products present other ingredients they can be specified, as well as, if added proteins are contained. In addition, the way of conservation and preservation must be written.

E – Economical

According to FAO the world consumption of fish is increased during the last decades: from an average of 9.9 kg per person in a year to an average of 20 kg per person in a year in 2015. In Italy this trend exceeded the world average with 25 kg per person a year.

In the report of CREA (Council for the agriculture research and economic agrarian analysis) we found that the average expense of Italian families is 490 € a year for the consumption and Italians buy most of all fresh fish in traditional fish shops.

For what concerns trade, Italy is at the seventh place in Europe for the consumption of fish coming from abroad and import exceeds export of fish.

The increase of fish consumption has the effect of rising the percentage of fish coming from aquaculture compared to the traditional fishing. Aquaculture, in fact, compensate the fishing from the sea whose production would not be able to cover the higher consumption of Italians.  

In conclusion, the largest share of turnover regarding the fishing industry (traditional and aquaculture) is in Veneto with the 22% compared to the other regions.

S – Social

A full picture of consumption trends for food in Italy is provided by the Istat Report “Italia in Cifre” (2015). 

The Italian families’ food expenditure shows different characteristics depending on the age. Young couples (under 35) spend around 284.3 € per month on food, while the oldest couples (over 65) spend a monthly average of 467.04 €. This relation between age and expenditure is reversed if we consider how much Italians spend in restaurants. Young couples’ expenditure lays around 159.37 € per month, while old couples spend very little to eat in the restaurant: around 62.29 € per month. The same happens when we consider singles instead of couples: each month, singles under 35 spend on average 117.8 €, while singles over 65 spend only 34.74 €.

Italians tend to prefer sea fish rather than freshwater fish. Not surprisingly, the most consumed fishes in Italy are tuna, sea bass and anchovies. Usually in Italy the seafood is eaten once a week.

It is undeniable the evidence of how choice factors influence consumers in purchase decision. In particular, in our case, the reference on distribution channel, price and quality needs to be illustrated.

Concerning the distribution, the most used channels are supermarkets because of the wide assortment offered. Preferences converge to a product which derives from a short distribution chain that means variety and seasonal nature of the supply of fresh products. Conversely, in case a km0 distribution is not possible, the clients’ decision falls on for what resembles Italian products. Typically, during the stages of buying decision process customers are deeply influenced by the suggestions given them by a real person in supermarkets. In particular, during the evaluation of the available options, they totally entrust on the fisherman, seen as a reliable source of quality. When quality is acknowledge, people are inclined to pay a premium price.

Another reassurance is given by different Italian certificates needed in order to sell products (e.g. certifications of origin, D.O.P., ISO 3600 and BRC) and by those that guarantee food safety and quality of products and processes (e.g. IFS Food).

The Italian people consider health as an essential aspect of their lives: the tendency is to control lifestyles and food in general. To this end, fish is clearly healthier than meat because of a higher level of fatty acids and omega-3 that reduces heart trouble and ensures lower cholesterol levels.

T – Technological

Product’s/processes’ point of view. An important issue in the fishing industry is the scarce diffusion of technological innovations and more sustainable production systems. In fact, during the past years only small improvements were made in terms of ship technology, modern nets and sonars.

The key stages of the production processes are:

– for packed fresh seafood: gutting, cleaning, filleting and packaging (plastic or thermoformed tray, ATM or vacuum skin);

– for cooked seafood: fresh or frozen ingredients, portioning, preparation according to a certain recipe, packaging (usually in special trays that can be used to cook the product in a microwave and/or in a traditional oven) and thermic treatment in order to increase the shelf-life.

Fish&Friends uses an innovative system based on purified, refrigerated and ozonized water (2°) able to lower the bacterial charge of raw fishes and extend the shelf-life from 5-6 to 8-10 days.

Distribution’s point of view. Despite the consumers’ preference for the traditional channels, a challenge in the fishing industry (and in the throughout the food industry) is represented by e-commerce and food delivery apps.

(The presentation is available here.)


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