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Italy loses position as top panettone producer as Brazil posts a record 200 million pieces per year


By Joseph Cannavo, Herald Editor Emeritus

Many Italians in Italy and in Italian enclaves around the world may be under the impression that the traditional “Italian” panettone they enjoy each Christmas season are all imported from Italy. After all, this savory Italian bread made with eggs, fruit, and butter was created in Italy. There is no doubt about the origins of panettone, a sweet symbol of an Italian Christmas that has long been enjoyed across the world. 

It has become so popular in the United Kingdom that it has outsold the classic Christmas pudding, according to upmarket retailers. While Italy is the country of origin for panettone it is no longer the largest producer and now ranks in third place as an exporter. With 200 million pieces per year, Brazil is the largest panettone manufacturer in the world, with Peru the close second. Italy produces about 50 million panettone per year.

According to the Centro Studi Tasletati, a cooperative company founded in 1990 with the aim of developing sensory analysis methods, “Brazil has a quadruple production compared to Italy thanks to standardization” – a standardization based in particular “on the replacement of the traditional acidity with selected yeasts.” Peruvians consume panettone throughout the year, thus leaving Italy in third place in the world for production. 

Now remains the question, why is this Italian dessert liked so much and how did Brazil become the No. 1 producer and exporter of this Italian creation? Much of the success is linked to Luigi Bauducco, an entrepreneur who died in 2020. Originally from Turin, he migrated to Brazil in the 1950s with his parents. As destination, the family chose Minas Geras, Sao Paolo, where he created a dessert company which became very popular in a brief time. His desserts were famous for the great leavening. Over time, Bauducco came to produce 70 million panettone per year, thus making the Italian Christmas specialty known throughout the country. It is important to note however that
while there may be variations, all these producers
start with the traditional Milanese recipe.

Next Christmas, will your panettone be Italian?

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