Pasta costs have increased, which prompts crisis discussions in Italy and a call for a walkout

May 24, 2023: Whether it’s platting spaghetti aglio e olio or penne arrabbiata, the price of Italy’s sporting staple is zooming enough to warrant a crisis meeting at the heart of the Italian administration.

Pasta prices increased 17.5% in March and 16.5% in April, according to Italy’s Ministry of Business, which cited Istat data. The increase is double that of Italy’s consumer price index figures, which climbed 8.1% year-on-year for April and 8.7% for March, according to Refinitiv data.

Pasta restaurant dishes have increased by 6.1% annually, Italy’s consumer rights group Assoutenti stated. In 2022, survey by the International Pasta Organization, an average Italian consumes nearly 23 kg of pasta annually.

The elevated retail prices are owed to the fact that producers are now selling their pasta stocks made when the raw material costs are higher.

“This is because of the disposal of stocks produced with increasing costs of raw materials,” Assoutenti’s President Furio Truzzi stated, which cited higher wheat and energy prices.

In March 2022, the cost of wheat peaked at its surged level in more than a decade as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine advanced. Both nations are vast suppliers of agricultural products to the global market.

However, Truzzi stated that the input costs have since decreased since that time, and other factors now drive higher pasta prices.

“High prices are maintained to have greater profits. Prices will decrease only in the face of a significant decrease in consumption,” said Assoutent, proposing plans to decrease pasta consumption with a “pasta strike” of at least 15 days. In 2007, Italians staged a one-day strike against purchasing pasta when prices rose by almost 20%.

International wheat prices in April lost 2.3%, dropping to their lowest since July 2021, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization.

“Wheat prices have declined from their historic peak following the invasion of Ukraine but remain high,” the World Bank’s External Affairs Officer Nandita Roy said through e-mail. She noted that the World Bank related a 17.4% drop in wheat costs in 2023 relative to 2022.

The prices of durum wheat, a variety of grain typically used in pasta, have also declined in recent months. “However, many country-specific factors would explain the rise in pasta prices in Italy,” Roy added.

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