Farmers report a poor crop of durum wheat this year, used for dried pasta – and it could mean price hikes of 25% or even a shortfall in the popular Italian carbohydrate
Supermarket shoppers could struggle to get pasta as farmers report a poor harvest of the vital grain needed to make it.
Durum wheat is used to make wheat pasta, but now farmers in Canada have downgraded their forecast for the crop this year.
They expected to get 4.2million tonnes and now think the figure will be 3.4million tonnes.
This worsens the problem of a lack of durum wheat this year in Europe and the US.
Eurostar director Jason Bull reported a 90% increase in the cost of raw materials and transport prices.
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Speaking to The Grocer, Bull said: “This is a dire situation hitting all semolina producers and all buyers of durum wheat across the globe.
“Companies are buying at record high prices and farmers are holding on to wheat and driving the price up. We expect to see shortages on supermarket shelves and increasing prices, which will ultimately be passed on to consumers.
“We may also see substitutions whereby pasta will be produced with soft wheat flour rather than hard durum wheat.”
The issue affects dried pasta, but should not hit fresh egg pasta, which is made using a different sort of flour.
The cost of high-protein durum wheat in Europe soared from £506.53 per tonne on August 5 to £652.37 on September 2, according to the Bologna Commodities market index.
The problem could see a pasta price rise of 25%, according to Walter Zanre, the chief executive of Italian food firm Filippo Berio.
A pasta shortage would be an eerie reminder of the situation in early 2020 as the pandemic took hold.
Many supermarkets ran short of goods like pasta as worried shoppers stockpiled food.
Stores such as Tesco had to ration goods like flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes so that there was enough to go around.
These supermarkets and their suppliers are grappling with several issues that could mean a lack of goods in stores.
But Morrisons and Sainsbury’s warn there could be shortages over the next few weeks unless government steps in to help out supermarkets.
A spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a trade body for shops, said: “We will have to see what happens over the next few weeks. If government doesn’t intervene, especially with HGV drivers, then there could be some availability issues in stores.”
A Tesco spokesperson would not comment on shortages yesterday, but a well-placed source said the supermarket had “good availability in stores and online”.
The source added: “Our frozen deliveries do not use dry ice and are operating as normal. We’re liaising with the government to understand their plans and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
But the chairman of Tesco, John Allan, has already urged people not to panic-buy.