October is National Pasta Month but you might have to celebrate without your favorite spaghetti, penne, and macaroni because of shortages around the globe. Why is there a pasta shortage?
The reason for the pasta shortage boils down (pun intended) to climate change. Canada is the largest exporter of durum wheat, which is used to make pasta. About two-thirds of all durum wheat comes from the Great White North. However, this summer’s extremely dry heat and drought reportedly wiped out 30 percent of the crops.
The price of wheat shot up by 90 percent to around $350 per metric ton, reports Eat This, Not That. However, the higher prices didn’t prevent bags and boxes of pasta from flying off the shelves.
The shortage is particularly bad in the United Kingdom, where pasta producers primarily import durum wheat from Canada. In the U.S., durum wheat is mostly grown in North Dakota.
Heavy rainfall in Europe is also to blame.
The European pasta market is struggling from a completely different climate change issue. Heavy rainfall in France and Italy is also severely impacting the durum wheat crops, reports the French news outlet The Connexion.
The situation is dire, says Jason Bull, director of Eurostar Commodities.
“We should be under no illusion climate change is causing this. It’s crazy. I’ve been doing this for 17 years, but I’ve not seen this before,” Bull told the UK’s Daily Mirror.
Consumers aren’t happy about the pasta shortage.
Consumers across the globe posted pictures on social media of empty pasta shelves in their local stores.
“Pasta shortage blamed on climate change. Going to have to get used to this. And impacts will be a lot more than middle classes paying a bit extra for spag bol,” tweeted Alice Bell from London.
“Even if there were a pasta shortage, I should imagine that there's enough unused pasta in everyone's kitchen cupboards to keep the world in spaghetti etc.,” tweeted Y Mwncïod of Liverpool.
“Whatever way you slice it, the price is going up. What else will be affected next!?” tweeted David Yung.
The great bucatini shortage of 2020
This isn’t the first time that there has been a pasta shortage. Many pasta aficionados recall the great bucatini shortage of 2020. Bucatini is a type of pasta that is shaped like a long, narrow tube. Think of a really thick spaghetti noodle with a hole in the middle.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA blocked Italian pasta company De Cecco from importing its bucatini after it found that the iron in the pasta was about 2 milligrams less per pound than it required. The FDA requires pasta to have 13 milligrams of iron per pound, and De Cecco’s was 10.9 milligrams per pound.
“Being educated noodle consumers, we knew that there was, more generally, a pasta shortage due to the pandemic, but we were still able to find spaghetti and penne and orecchiette — shapes which, again, insult me even in concept. The missing bucatini felt different. It was specific. Frightening. Why bucatini? Why now? Why us?” wrote Rachel Handler in the New York Magazine article, “What the Hole Is Going On?”