A pasta war breaks out in the UK

Fresh pasta is booming, partly because of Brexit. About 150 million packages are sold every year

Fresh pasta is the latest food market phenomenon in the UK. According to the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, the biggest Italian companies in the sector, from Barilla to Rana, are competing in the country to win the consumers’ preference.

Also thanks to the increase in immigrants in recent years, the British have become great pasta eaters in the last years. In 2021 the UK imported pasta, from Italy alone, for a value of more than 106 million euros (Source: Italian Trade Agency of London). Of this mountain of spaghetti and fusilli, fresh pasta now accounts for 13% compared to 40% of traditional dry pasta. But it is a niche with high-profit margins and is now becoming a booming market.

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Pasta Evangelists, born out of a home pasta delivery app, crossed 10 million in revenues in the Covid’s year, helped by people locked in their homes. The at-home recipe formula also caught the attention of Italy so much so that in early 2021 Barilla, the world’s largest pasta maker, bought a majority stake in Pasta Evangelists. For the Parma-based multinational it was also a way to relaunch itself in the British market. Today, Barilla is the fastest-growing brand in the country. Mulino Bianco cookies, jars of ready-made sauce, and pasta can be found everywhere in London, even in small tobacconists inside the subway.


The hunger for pasta has not yet been satisfied. Through the first week of December 2021, Britons have bought 150 million packs of pasta, worth €114 million (Source: IRI). Brexit has made it more difficult to import fresh pasta, which has a shelf life of just a few weeks and risks rotting as it waits for the EU-UK customs. Some have decided to gear up on their own, directly producing in the UK without importing. Italian food group Ticco Foods, owned by Francesco Vanoli, Giuseppe Pollara, and Marco Oriolo, took over a failing factory and set about producing fresh pasta that supplies hotels and supermarkets, as well as the mini-chain of gourmet stores La Piccola Deli. Now, following in Barilla’s footsteps, Ticco Foods is preparing to land in Tesco supermarkets with “Trafila” fresh pasta, a brand of its own. Many other suppliers are moving further down the chain, going direct to the shelf with their own products.

Fresh pasta is quick to cook, and time is a variable that makes a difference to big-city consumers. For months, the advertising of Pasta Evangelists’ home-cooked meals has stood out on London’s subway carriages. Recently, Italy’s Rana has also been added. Now Italy’s number one in stuffed pasta, which also dominates all British supermarkets, is offering its own kit for cooking tagliatelle alla Bolognese or gnocchi alla Sorrentina at home.

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