British Prime Minister Theresa May pulled the trigger on Article 50 on Wednesday, paving the way for negotiations with the EU over the UK’s exit from the union.
In the nine months since the British public voted to leave the bloc, businesses are still none the wiser over how the decision will affect them.
But one thing is clear: it will mean Brits paying a higher price for Italian food imports.
Italian producers of sparkling wine, meanwhile, are also hugely reliant on the British market, where sales surged by 33 percent in 2016, bringing them over €600,000 in revenues.
Producers fear the pricier beverage, especially with a weakened pound, could impact sales. Demand for prosecco, for now, is still robust, with consumption of the cheap fizz in the UK officially eclipsing Champagne in 2013.
“We are not crying just yet,” Domenico Bosco, a spokesperson for Coldiretti, the Italian farmers’ association, told The Local.
“The UK is the main market for prosecco and while demand hasn’t changed [since the referendum], British consumers will have to pay more for a product that they like to drink.
“Our production is also very much linked to the demand in the UK. It’s really clear that English consumers not only like prosecco and other sparkling wines very much, but also other ‘made in Italy’ food products, the price of which will also hit their wallets.”
It’s not only the food and driver sector that fares well from British custom: Italian companies within the technology, pharmaceutical, property and engineering sectors are also highly dependent on revenues from the UK.
But Brexit has left them in a precarious situation, with some businesses stalling investment amid the uncertainty.
“We would like to increase investments in London, it’s a very important market and we want to stay, but for now we have suspended investments there while we wait to see what the next step is – at the moment it’s impossible to understand what to do,” said Fabio de Felice, the founder of Protom, an IT company which opened an office in London with the aim of the city becoming its global hub.
“In my opinion, Brexit is a pity as the UK provides lots of opportunities for investment to lots of companies in Europe. I have also spoken to businesses based there which have lost a lot of money due to the currency devaluation.”