Festival treat for lovers of Italian food

A taste of Italy has been laid out for local customers as a Fresh Hema store is offering the finest ingredients for a cuisine that is popular throughout the world.
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A taste of Italy is laid out for visitors to Fresh Hema's Xingbao store in Minhang District. 

Mineral water from the Italian Alps, gianduja chocolate rich in fine hazelnut paste, translucent and delicately chewy pasta cooked with naturally sweet tomato sauce — all can be tasted at the Italian Food Festival underway at the Shanghai Fresh Hema’s Xingbao store on Caobao Road in Minhang District.

The festival, which will be running until June 21, is sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency’s Shanghai representative office, the Italian Consulate General in Shanghai and e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Fresh Hema, a fresh food marketplace that offers bricks–and-mortar shopping and dining as well as online ordering.

“Italians, like Chinese, pay much attention to food, which is part of our culture. For Italians, food is not only something to feed ourselves but also a means to socialize,” says Stefano Beltrame, Italian consul general in Shanghai. “We believe food is a significant part of our life. If we eat well, we will feel very happy, so we want to bring the same happiness to Chinese people.”

Italian cuisine, popular throughout the world, has developed over centuries. It is said that although the country known as Italy didn’t exist until the 19th century, the roots of its cuisine can be traced back to the 4th century BC.

“Italian cuisine is famous for its diversities, with tens of thousands of dishes. It is known as the ‘mother of Western food’,” said Massimiliano Tremiterra, chief representative of the Italian Trade Agency Shanghai office. “The Italian Food Festival brings an unmissable chance to true gourmets.”

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Stefano Beltrame, Italian consul general in Shanghai, at the opening of the Italian Food Festival

Aiming at promoting high-quality Italian food worldwide, festival organizers are trying to create a multicultural environment where people of different nationalities can share their culture, lifestyle and food.

“This year, Italians make use of food to promote the friendship between Chinese and Italians. The food festival allows Chinese to have a better understanding of Italian culture. It further improves the development of catering and retail industries in China,” Beltrame says.

Festival visitors can taste authentic Italian food and purchase fresh ingredients for cooking Italian dishes at home. 

A silhouette of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Coliseum in Rome, melodious and cheerful music, a dinning cart decorated with the Italian national flag and other Italian elements can be found at the Fresh Hema store.

Using technology and data to merge online and offline shopping, Fresh Hema is more than a shopping mall, a wet market or a restaurant. A pioneering example of the “New Retail” concept advocated by Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba, Fresh Hema aims to offer consumers a more efficient and convenient shopping experience for both visitors to the store and those ordering from home. 

Fresh Hema promises delivery within 30 minutes for customers within a 3-kilometer radius.

“The highly efficient service is very important as the taste of food will change with the increasing transportation time. Italian food shall be eaten in time, and the ingredients for cooking must be fresh. For example, mozzarella cheese needs to be eaten in 24 hours. To enjoy the best taste, the system must be fast so we are very happy that Fresh Hema has such a speedy doorstep delivery service,” Beltrame says.

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The delivery system in Europe, however, is not as developed as that in China, says the consul general. “For us Italians, it would be great if a supplier like Hema could deliver food in time, and I believe Italians would love to order food by just making a phone call,” he adds. “I hope there will be more cooperation between Fresh Hema and Italian companies.”

During the food festival, customers can also ask chefs to cook on site fresh ingredients to enjoy in the store’s large dining area. 

“Many types of Italian food like wine, cheese and sweets are produced by small companies, which don’t have enough funds to do business in China. Therefore, through cooperating with Fresh Hema, we hope that these small companies are able to ‘jump’ capital requirements,” said Stefano.

The weeklong festival began on June 15. The opening ceremony offered performances by an Italian singer and locally renowned violinists, and lectures on Italian cuisine. 

Italy is home to some of the world's oldest wine-producing regions and a range of wines are also featured at the festival. 

Italian Food Festival

Date: Through June 21

Fresh Hema’s Xingbao store

Opening hours: 9am-10pm

Address: B/F, 1574 Caobao Rd

Tel: 5470-0650



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