This contribution introduces the monographic issue of «Meridiana» devoted to the study of the transformations of Italian agri-food systems over the last three decades in a social science perspective. First, it describes four transformations in Italian agri-food system, through a reference to quantitative data, concerning the structure of farms, the changes in farm labour, the increasing role of supermarket chains in the distribution system, the growth in «quality» productions. Second, it recalls the contribution of international agri-food studies for a deeper understanding of the Italian case, with a particular reference to the global value chain approach and the food regime analysis. Third, this introduction critically reviews the most relevant findings of Italian recent debate on agri-food restructuring. Finally, it summarizes the main original elements given by articles to such debate for a critical comprehension of the contemporary transition. In particular, such contributions concern: the intertwinement between productivist and post-productivist agriculture models; the importance of the reduction of labour costs in the strategies of both farms and food industries; the role of retailers in imposing prices, production standards and organizational models in the agri-food systems; the analysis of conflicts, tensions and actors’ representations in the agri-food systems.
Keywords: Food regimes; Value chains; Post-productivist transition; Made in Italy food.