Disastrous wheat harvests in Canada, France and Italy have created a shortage of durum wheat, a key ingredient in the production of pasta.
Durum wheat is ground into semolina to make spaghetti, penne, pizza crusts, breads and macaroni to name a few.
Climate change has been identified as the likely culprit behind the disastrous harvests with rising temperatures in the summer coupled with drought creating a 40-50% drop in production of durum wheat in Canada.
“It’s because of the durum crop – pasta is made with durum wheat and the biggest exporter is Canada.
They’ve had a bad crop due to extreme bad 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%” said Jason Bell, Director of Eurostar Commodities speaking to the Metro.
Canada’s 2021 durum wheat harvest has been revised from 5 million tons to 3.4 million tons according to Food Navigator.
This falling supply has seen the price of Canadian wheat skyrocket from £237 to £455 in the period from June to September of this year, an 88% increase according to Mintec, a commodities data group.
In normal times, falling Canadian production would be managed through French and Italian wheat production but extreme weather has impacted production there. In France, wheat production has been hit by flooding in the summer.
Meanwhile, in Italy, frosty in the early spring and a dry summer have reduced the quantity and quality of Italian durum wheat.
Consequently, this has created a situation where normal wheat exporters such as Italy and France now become importers of wheat, which pushes up the price of durum wheat globally.
All of which will mean that the price of pasta will increase, with the average price of 500g of spaghetti pasta increasing by over 50% to £1.80 according to the Guardian.
The situation can be summed up in the words of Tosin Jack, Mintec’s commodity intelligence manager speaking to The Guardian. “We have a situation where there is less to go around and demand is not going to go down… so if you really want pasta you are going to have to pay more”.