Italy's Government Calls Emergency Meeting Over Pasta Crisis

What exactly constitutes a pasta crisis? Well, in Italy, the unofficial capital of pasta, it has less to do with shortages and more to do with grossly inflated pasta prices. 

Across the board, national inflation has hiked up grocery product prices by 8%, but pasta's inflation rate is double that. According to Reuters, Italy's pasta price inflation hit a staggering 17.5% in March. As of right now, pasta inflation is causing Italians to spend an extra $27.60 per year on their beloved pantry staple. Italians consume more pasta than any other country, averaging about 51 pounds of pasta per year, so rising costs for this dietary staple are hitting Italy particularly hard. In response, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso has called for an emergency meeting on May 11 in order to better understand and, hopefully, reduce this price spike. 

In the past, pasta prices were a direct reflection of durum wheat prices. All Italian pasta must be made with durum wheat thanks to the purity law of 1967, but that's surprisingly not the case in this instance. In a statement to ANSA, the head of the National Farmer's Association reported that wheat prices have gone down as much as 30% in 2023. Still, the pasta prices have not followed suit, further solidifying Urso's case that a dialogue must be opened on the jarring price hike. 

Italy's growing pasta problem

At the crisis meeting, a new watchdog committee will be formed to monitor the fluctuating prices, made up of government-appointed economic authorities plus members of certain trade and consumer associations. One possible cause for this rise in cost? Speculation on wheat prices. ANSA reports that the National Consumer Union claims pasta prices can't come down until betting on wheat prices is deemed an "unfair practice."

Others are claiming that supply chain hold-ups and Italy's ongoing energy crisis are to blame, both of which have been affected by the Russian war on Ukraine. In fact, Business Insider has noted that the energy crisis has even affected the way Italians cook their pasta. Following climbing energy bills, Nobel Prize-winner Giorgio Parisi suggested on Facebook that people should turn the stove top off once they add their pasta to boiling water, trapping the heat in with a tightly fitting lid. While he claims this will properly cook your pasta and reduce your energy bills, this method is not endorsed by a lot of chefs as it doesn't meet their gold standard of al dente pasta.  

Either way, it seems some serious changes are due in order for Italy's cherished pasta traditions to return to a state of normalcy.