PIEVE DI CADORE, Italy—The ANFAO (Italian Optical Goods Manufacturers’ Association) general meeting was held earlier this month at the Eyewear Museum of Pieve di Cadore to take stock of the eyewear industry's performance and review the forecast for the coming months in Italy and internationally. The organization noted that exports from Italy's eyewear industry, which comprise about 90 percent of the sector's overall production, enjoyed a strong showing, especially in the first eight months of 2022.

For the January-August period, exports increased 22.4 percent over the same period in 2021 with an overall value of €3.23 billion. Looking at the month-by-month performance of exports in the first 8 months of 2022, the trend follows that of previous years with constant growth and a key spike in March, that significantly outpaced industry performance from 2019 to date. Exports of Italian eyewear by geographic area are also recovering in all areas, compared to 2021. The most significant figure are the results in value achieved over the same period in 2021 Exports to countries within Europe rose by 50.8 percent, to America by 35 percent and to Asia, by 12.6 percent, ANFAO reported.

For year-end 2022, ANFAO forecasts overall growth in exports of 12 percent to 14 percent, representing an 8 percent to 10 percent increase in production compared to the prior year. Shipments to the domestic Italy market remain stable, compared to 2021, with growth forecast between 0.5 percent and 1 percent.

At the same time, ANFAO stated concerns with the overall economic outlook for 2023. The organization noted, "With the gradual waning of the COVID-19 pandemic and loosening of restrictions, expectations around the globe tended to be more positive, but the reality that emerged at the beginning of 2022 is turning out to be much more problematic. This context is heavily impacted by increasingly rapid change, political and media polarization, supply chain issues, inflation, debt and geopolitical conflicts."

The statement cited forces like the war in Ukraine and the sharp spike in the cost of living and rising inflation. It also noted "a new era of anxiety, from climate concerns to political stressors including consumer mindsets and behaviors."

Commented Giovanni Vitaloni, president of ANFAO and Mido, “All of this requires that we be extremely prudent and think long-term. Our sector is performing well. It is on the upswing and we expect to close out the year on the 'plus' side. And yet, the rise in prices we are experiencing will soon limit family purchasing power and the increased cost of raw materials, the energy crisis, galloping inflation and the unstable geopolitical situation call for extreme caution and keeping a close eye on future forecasts.

"We will have to roll up our sleeves in order to not leave anyone behind on the road to progress. To fuel this spirit, collaboration and cooperation are required, which certainly are not lacking in the eyewear industry, along with a major intervention plan from our government," Vitaloni said.