Pasta Prices Are Soaring In Italy, Prompting Crisis Meetings, Calls For Cut In Consumption

Pasta Prices Are Soaring In Italy, Prompting Crisis Meetings, Calls For Cut In Consumption
Cover Image Source: (L) Pexels | Katerina Holmes | (R) Pexels | Karolina Grabowska

The price of the beloved pasta is soaring in Italy. The surge is alarming enough to warrant a crisis meeting. According to Italy's Ministry of Business which cited Istat data, the prices of pasta rose 17.5% in March and 16.5% in April. Supply chain disruptions, high wheat and energy prices are being blamed for the crisis.

Adolfo Urso, the nation's business enterprise minister, Thursday called a meeting of a new commission to discuss the increase in the price of pasta. Price Surveillance Guarantor Benedetto Mineo, who chaired the meeting, said that "a significant drop in the cost of pasta is expected shortly" and that the authorities will continue to monitor the prices. 

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According to CNBC, pasta dishes in restaurants have risen 6.1%, year on year. An average individual in Italy consumes around 23 kg of pasta every year, a survey has said. The prices will only come down if there is a significant drop in consumption, an Italian consumer group Assoutenti said proposing plans to reduce pasta consumption with a “pasta strike” of at least 15 days. 

A key factor behind the surge is that producers are selling their old stocks which was produced when the raw material costs were higher.

"This is due to the disposal of stocks produced with higher costs of raw materials," Assoutenti's President Furio Truzzi said citing higher wheat and energy prices.

At the end of FY 2022, the price of wheat peaked at its highest in more than 10 years mostly because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as both nations are massive suppliers of agricultural products to the global market. 

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How Bad Is It?

Getty Images | David Ramos
Getty Images | David Ramos

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According to another Assoutenti analysis, the average price of a one-kilogram box of Barilla spaghetti, rigatoni, and or penne pasta, rose from €1.70 ($1.86) to €2.13 ($2.33) in the year to March, an increase of more than 25%, as per CNN Business.

The price jump is more than double of Italy's consumer price inflation and stands at 8.1%, as reported by The Washington Post. Many consumer groups have held the producers responsible and have filed an official complaint asking authorities to investigate the matter further.

Producers on the other hand say that a host of factors including higher energy costs and supply chain disruptions led to this situation. 

But people seem to be in denial about the rising prices, "People are pretending not to see it, but the prices are clearly visible," one Italian Twitter user tweeted

Another Italian wrote, "At the supermarket near the house, which has the prices of Las Vegas in the high season, dried pasta has even reached 5 euros per kilo. The suspicion that there was slight speculation had come to me as well. A country that was not the birthplace of Sherlock Holmes inexplicably".

Little To No Justification For The Price Surge

Getty Images | Engin Akyurt
Getty Images | Engin Akyurt

According to Italy's biggest farmers association, Coldiretti the high retail prices of pasta have not translated into higher revenues for the farmers who grow durum wheat.

The association said that the making pasta is simple and requires only water and wheat which gives "little justification" for the huge price surge.

Climate Change Impact On Pasta Production

Pexels | Lisa Fotios
Pexels | Lisa Fotios

A huge pasta shortage was witnessed in early 2021. The extreme heat had wiped out 30% of the crops in Canada. As a result, the price shot up by 90 percent to around $350 per metric ton.

The European pasta market also suffered quite a bit because of the heavy rainfall in France and Italy that washed out the durum wheat crops, as reported by the French outlet The Connexion.

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