Empty pasta shelves were today seen in Sainsbury’s stores in Birmingham and Surrey, and at Tesco stores in Edinburgh and Bristol. Customers have also been complaining on social media
Supermarkets are facing a dried pasta shortage following a poor wheat harvest – and an expert has warned it could push prices up by 50%.
The situation is also being made worse by the lorry driver crisis that is affecting supply chains up and down the country.
It comes as the price of wheat shot up by around 90% this summer after a drought and soaring temperatures hit supplier farms in Canada.
These farms produce much of the durum wheat that is ground into semolina to make spaghetti, penne and macaroni in the UK.
In one Tesco store, there was a sign next to an empty space where its own-brand penne pasta quills would sit that read: “Sorry, out of stock.
“Next delivery expected Sunday, 17th October.”
Jason Bull, director of Eurostar Commodities, the UK’s leading independent ingredients experts, said customers could end up paying more for their pasta as a result of the poor harvest.
He said: “We should be under no illusion climate change is causing this. It’s crazy. I’ve been doing this for 17 years, but I’ve not seen this before.
“It’s because of the durum crop – pasta is made with durum wheat and the biggest exporter is Canada.
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“They’ve had a very bad crop due to extreme dry weather – it’s hardly rained since they planted the crop so they’re down about 42%. It had a big drop and then the USA is down nearly 50%.
“Couple that with the opposite effect – in Europe and France they’ve had excessive rain, so the wheat crop isn’t suitable for milling. So, it’s a bad situation on both sides of the Atlantic.”
This isn’t the first time Mr Bull has warned about an impending pasta shortage.
Speaking at the end of last month, he explained how farmers in Canada were expecting to get 4.2million tonnes of durum wheat – but now think the figure will be 3.4million tonnes.
A pasta shortage marks 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.
Shoppers have also been complaining on Twitter this week about the new lack of pasta in shops.
One person said: “I was in Tesco on Sunday. I can honestly say that I have more pasta in my home than they had on the shelves there.”
Another tweeted: “No pasta in Tesco again!”
A third said: “Sainsbury’s will you be suffering a pasta shortage for a while! Twice in the last week I’ve been in your stores and no pasta.”
A fourth added: “When I popped into Sainsbury’s yesterday there was a distinct lack of pasta.”
A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s told The Mirror “suppliers are working hard to make sure customers can find everything they need” when they shop
“Availability in some product categories may vary but alternatives are available and stores continue to receive deliveries daily,” they continued.
The Mirror has also contacted Tesco for comment. Tesco chairman John Allan has already urged people not to panic-buy.