Italian Government to Hold 'Crisis Meeting' Over Surging Pasta Prices

Prices for the staple product are rising at double the projected inflation rate, despite wheat prices going down.

Various pasta shapes
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It’s not terribly surprising that Italians are the world’s biggest consumers of pasta, eating an average of 51 pounds of said carbs every year. So as the country’s pasta prices have continued to climb, government officials have decided to take action. According to Reuters, Adolfo Urso, Italy’s Minister of Economic Development, has requested a crisis meeting to discuss this situation.

Urso said that the cost of spaghetti and other styles of pasta were up 17.5% year-over-year compared to the price of those staples last spring — and that’s despite a decrease in the price of durum wheat. This will be among the topics of discussion for Urso and the Rapid Price Alert Commission when they meet on Thursday, May 11.

“Our intention is to reactivate the national experimental commission for durum wheat as soon as possible, not excluding proceeding with the establishment of a single national commission, to strengthen the dialogue between the players in the supply chain and for the formation of a shared price nationwide,” Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida said, according to Italian broadcaster ANSA.

Coldiretti, Italy’s national farmers association, confirmed to ANSA that the price of durum wheat, which is used to make pasta, has dropped 30% since this time last year, but the price of pasta has doubled compared to predicted price increases due to inflation. In addition, they said that the prices of both dry and fresh pasta have steadily climbed since June 2021.

On top of those higher prices, Italy is also enduring an energy crisis, which prompted a Nobel Prize winner to suggest that Italians should turn off the heat source while cooking their pasta. “After bringing the water to a boil, just throw in the pasta and wait two minutes,” Giorgio Parisi, a theoretical physicist and professor at Sapienza University, said. “Then you can turn off the gas, put the lid on and calculate one minute longer than the indicated cooking time.”

Parisi calculated that this one change could save each pasta-cooking person around $6 in energy costs every year, which adds up to an annual country-wide savings of $47.6 million.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Parisi’s suggestion wasn’t universally well-received. "Let’s leave cooking to chefs while physicists do experiments in their lab,” Chef Luigi Pomata grumbled, calling Parisi’s method “a disaster.”

Although if pasta prices continue to spike, it could be worth giving it a shot — at the very least, you’d have six extra bucks to spend on your next package of penne.

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