On the occasion of World Pasta Day 2021 (October 25), Unione Italiana Food (an association of Italian food industries) and IPO (International Pasta Organization) released the most recent data on the global market trend. Last year was characterized by a real boom for pasta consumption all over the world. The consumption normalization that is characterizing 2021 shows a liking for this typical Italian food that is even higher than before the Covid pandemic. The drop in sales that seems to characterize 2021 does not undermine the pasta consumption trend which doubled in the last 10 years (2010-2020), rising from almost 9 to about 17 million tons per year (one more than in 2019).
Italy remains the reference country for production, consumption, and exports. Every Italian consumes over 23 kg of pasta per year, coming in the first place of this special ranking before Tunisia (17 kg), Venezuela (15 kg), and Greece (12.2 kg). In 2020, Italy’s leadership consolidated bringing 50 million more packs into the pantries of Italian consumers.
Also in 2020, 1 out of 4 pasta dishes eaten in the world was Italian. With 3.9 million tons produced, Italy is confirmed as the world leader ahead of the USA, Turkey, Egypt, and Brazil. More than half of Italy’s production (62%) ends up abroad. The countries where Italy exports the most are Germany, the UK, the USA, France, and Japan. In 2020 Italian exports performed best in China, Canada, Spain, and Saudi Arabia.
Italian pasta, in short, is a very good indicator of global food consumption. Compared to January/July 2020, exports in the first 7 months of 2021 dropped by -9.4% in value, but grew by +13% compared to 2019, before the Covid pandemic outbreak. Considering the volumes of pasta exported to the 5 most strategic markets – those that buy more than half of Italian exports – the balance is positive towards Germany (+6%), France (+2%), Japan (+4%), and especially the USA (+10%). The only negative sign comes from the United Kingdom (-4%), as a result of Brexit. There are also those who ate more pasta in 2021 than in 2020, such as consumers in South Korea (+18%), and the Netherlands (+5%).
“The nations of Northern Europe are confirmed as our most important markets. Supremacy is very much linked to the migratory flows that characterized the early years of the 20th century. Pasta has been an instrument of the social and cultural integration of immigrants. Today, Italian pasta is an increasingly well-known and appreciated global food. This is also due to the activity of the factories that some companies have set up abroad. On-site production is also very important from the point of view of sustainability,” says Riccardo Felicetti, president of the pasta makers of Unione Italiana Food.