Feeding has and will have an increasingly strategic role in the construction of the countries and their economic development. Economy where communication and public relations are a key instrument. That’s the message coming from the international conference “Expo & Food: the role of communication in food promotion worldwide” organized by Global Alliance and FERPI on Saturday, June 27th at Expo2015 in the Cluster Bio Mediterranean. “Food crosses many dimensions of human actions and society “- said Patrizia Rutigliano, President FERPI- “Integrating all these dimensions requires a specific action that allows to capitalize on different sensitivities and existing projects, turning them into a unified strategy of institutional profile”. The event, with a large international participation, has served to create an opportunity for exchange of views to compare different cultures and develop relations with the countries of the Mediterranean area in the Pavilion. The Cluster, in fact, ‘cause of its structure, is similar to a square where alternate people, sounds, noises, typical of Mediterranean markets and as such lends itself to dialogue, as the ancient ‘agora’. The meeting was opened by the Manager of Cluster, Dario Cartabellotta, which introduced the discussion by highlighting the importance of food and in particular the Mediterranean diet, recognized by UNESCO in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as symbol of a real nutritional style. “The food belongs to everyone and the spread of culture for a healthy. Genuine and tasty diet is one objective of Cluster, where Sicily does to welcome the countries bordering the Mediterranean, that over the centuries have brought to our land their traditions, including through the food, “said Cartabellotta.

The debate developed with the contribution of Rp professionals from around the world showed the importance of communication in the promotion of food, but also other aspects related to it, such as “table”, meaning “fundamental social aggregation”, that must not be lost, because it’s a moment of union for families and peoples.

“Lunch is viewed as the most important meal” – said Gregor Halff, Chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management – “Have you had your lunch?” Is the most frequently asked question in Singapore, where there are the best foods from India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia. According to Jane Gitau, Chair of Public Relations PRSK of Kenya, the food has an absolutely central role, and at weddings and funerals they prepare various dishes from the different cultures that coexist in Kenya. But the time of greatest aggregation, almost like a magical similarity with Italy, we have over a good coffee, produced in different fragrances and tastes from more than 70,000 factories located throughout the area, real cultural, economic and social phenomenon.

“In the last decades, is happening a recovery of the importance of good food in the UK” – said Anne Gregory, Immediate Past Chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, United Kingdom, where production of beer, roast beef and fish & chips has become the main industry of the country. “Before we were eating to live, now we live to eat”. Mrs. Gregory continued “There’s a great attention about the very timely issue of genetic modification. It must not be only demonized but rather seen as the solution to continue to maintain a good quality of food and at the same time the best way to feed people. “Indonesia, according to the Immediate Past Chairperson PERHUMAS Public Relations Association of Indonesia and President of ASEAN Public Relations Network, Prita Kemal Gani, engages a lot on promotion of food. “In Indonesia there are more than 300 ethnic groups and around 18.307 islands. The food of each ethnic group is different and we use communication to make sure that Indonesian food is figured as an integral part of the culture of the country. Governors, ambassadors and public figures play an important role in the spread of cultural traditions through food “.

Even Lebanon, represented by Joelle Elias, Communication Manager at EXPO, for its location in the Mediterranean has been conquered by various peoples who have helped to create a fusion flavors, music and lifestyle. Different religions have played a key role in the spread of typical foods, like the hommos, the kebbe, tabouleh, sweet beklava, but also the alcoholic drink arak and wine falafel, all fresh products that over time have reached international markets.

And like real Spanish “cousins”, Jose Manuel Velasco Guardado, Board Member of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management and Immediate Past President Dircom Spanish Association of Communication Directors, having praised the food culture in his country, citing their famous dishes like paella, jamon serrano and patanegra, which are a driving force for the economy and tourism in Spain, concluded his remarks jokingly admitting that he “prefers to eat the food instead of talking about food.”

A concrete example of action to the spread of culture of food arrived from Governor Rotary Malta-Sicily, Giovanni Vaccaro, who has published in collaboration with the Regional Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Mediterranean Fishing, the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Sicily and the Oral Medical Institute at University of Palermo, a bilingual book (Italian-English) entitled “Taste and Health“, which lists over 90 typical products of the Mediterranean diet, full of advices for a healthy nutrition and which made a gift to foreign speakers. “One way – said Vaccaro

– to help spread awareness of healthy eating”.

At the end, Dario Cartabellotta from perfect ‘host’ offered to foreign guests the classic “bread with oil”, simple food, healthy, nutrient and excellent symbol of the Mediterranean diet.

The conference at EXPO represented a synthesis of the great attention that is having the communication of food & beverage. From the meeting it emerged an awareness on the role of ‘containers’ as EXPO that can create new synergies because they put in direct contact people.

And that’s perhaps the real legacy of EXPO 2015 : international events, by their nature, can not lead decisively to the resolution of complex problems or issues, however, they can and should aim to build relationships and make that they become fruitful.

(Roberta Sciacca)


Roberta Sciacca

Public Relations & Communication Consultant

Qualified Professional L.4/13

FERPI Sicily -ITALY- rprsciacca@gmail.com