Rome, 7 June 2002 -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Italian food-industry giant Parmalat signed an agreement in support of the global anti-hunger summit set to open here on 10 June, the agency announced today.

Under the terms of the accord, Parmalat will contribute more than Euro 360 000 including in-kind support to cover costs related to infrastructure, communication and information facilities as well as supplies needed for the "World Food Summit: five years later". Moreover, the net proceeds from sale on premises of Parmalat products will be contributed to the TeleFood Special Fund to finance small, self-contained agriculture, livestock and fisheries projects that help poor families produce more food.

The initiative is part of a longer-term partnership between FAO and Parmalat, whereby the Parma-based company is supporting FAO's work in the fight against hunger with funds totalling about Euro 1.5 million over a three-year period starting in 2000. It is among the most ambitious of the food agency's efforts to engage private sector firms in a joint effort to meet the interim goal set by the World Food Summit in 1996, to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the number of hungry people by 2015.

According to FAO, progress to date on that goal has been too slow. To reach the target, the number of undernourished needs to decrease by 22 million per year, far above the current rate of six million per year. To take stock of the situation and identify ways to accelerate progress, Heads of State and Government from rich, poor and middle-income countries will gather at FAO Headquarters from 10 to 13 June.

"Parmalat has made a significant commitment to working with FAO," said Parmalat President Calisto Tanzi, "because this is a relationship that enables us to make a contribution to the world's most needy populations." The June Summit and simultaneous related meetings have the potential to make a lasting impact on solving food insecurity problems around the world, Tanzi said.

The FAO Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, underlined the importance of Parmalat's contribution. "If we really want to make sustainable reductions in the number of people suffering from hunger, it is essential that the private sector be involved," he said. "I am pleased that Parmalat has chosen to work with us on the World Food Summit: five years later, because it reflects an awareness of the seriousness of the problem and of the need for new and innovative alternatives to traditional agricultural assistance."

Parmalat, a leader in the production and processing of milk, milk products and other foods, has operations in more than 30 countries worldwide. The Rome-based FAO, among the largest of the United Nations specialized agencies, has a leadership role in fighting hunger and raising levels of nutrition in the developing countries.