Could Another Pasta Shortage Be Coming?

Americans eat a lot of pasta. Citing the 2019 World Pasta Industry Status Report by the International Pasta Organization, Share the Pasta reports that the average person in the United States eats about 20 pounds of these beautiful carbs each year. Americans also produce a lot of pasta, clocking in as the second-largest producer in the world as of 2019 with 4.4 billion pounds of pasta being made yearly. But pasta lovers may have cause for concern because we might be in store for a global shortage. We emphasize "might" because we definitely don't want to artificially cause a run on pasta at your local grocery store; however, there are a few key points of concern with pasta producers worth highlighting.

French outlet Connexion shares that both France and Canada are facing the threat of rising pasta prices due to a durum wheat shortage originating in Canada, the largest durum wheat producer in the world. Canada has experienced a crop-destroying heatwave that has damaged 30% of their crops, and in Europe, there has been so much rain that we wouldn't be surprised if someone built an ark. Too bad, there might not be much durum wheat to stock it with. And sadly, per Eat This, Not That!, durum wheat is used to make semolina, the gluten-filled flour that's extremely well-suited for making pasta. The decrease in durum wheat has lead to a stark increase in prices.

Are pasta shortage concerns being blown out of proportion?

Per Connexion, global prices for durum wheat have already seen a 30% jump since the middle of July and may continue trending upward. With pasta manufacturers in countries like France reporting low reserves of durum wheat, it may lead to fewer boxes and bags of pasta available to purchase at grocery stores. While speaking with, the director of Eurostar Commodities called the shortage "a dire situation" for durum wheat buyers and semolina producers on a global scale.

However, before the stockpiling mentality kicks in, the Toronto Sun reported that it is being told by "industry types" that Canada has ample crops to harvest. Moreover, while Jeff Howson of Howson & Howson Ltd., a Canadian flour mill, acknowledged the challenges of durum wheat shortages, Howson also told the Toronto Sun, "I don't see a pasta shortage happening. There may be some availability hiccups, but to call it a shortage is fairly stretched out at this point." Still, that wouldn't mean the price of durum wheat won't continue to rise and be passed on to pasta-loving consumers who are already being hit hard by price increases at the grocery store. The Economic Research Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported in August that for 2021 that "food-at-home prices are now expected to increase between 2.5 and 3.5%."