Italians Face Tough Call: Pasta or Biofuels?

Biofuel enthusiasts in Italy may have just seen their hopes falter a bit: facing the prospect of mounting durum wheat prices, many pasta lovers in the country will undoubtedly wonder whether it's worth trading in their staple food for more wheat-based ethanol. Italian manufacturers have warned that the price of pasta, whose main ingredient is durum wheat, will likely shoot up by about 20% in the fall due to the increasing use of the grains in biofuels.

Although Italy remains one of the world's main producers of durum wheat (its expertise in selecting and blending grains for pasta making is still unrivaled), strong domestic demand and a flourishing export market have forced pasta manufacturers to import more from abroad (close to 40%), primarily from Canada and Syria. According to Mario Rummo, the president of the Italian pasta manufacturers association, however, Canada has just announced that it won't have any more wheat for sale until at least November. Syria, on the other hand, has just placed a ban on the export of wheat.Analysts predict a price hike of close to 20% for spaghetti and fettuccine by the fall, a heavy blow for consumers long used to purchasing cheap pasta. Many have blamed global warming concerns for the shift in wheat sales from domestic food markets to the renewable energy industry. This has directly contributed to a sharp increase in the wholesale prices of the grain.

This price effect is likely to spill over in other large pasta consuming nations (say the U.S.) in the near future as supplies continue to dwindle. The worst imaginable scenario, of course, remains the drastic consequences increases in similar food crop prices (especially corn) could pose for developing countries in Africa and Asia, including mass poverty, hunger and starvation.

Via ::BBC News: Italians facing pasta price rise (news website)

See also: ::Don't Bet on Biofuels, ::The Big, the Bad and the Biofuels, ::Ethanol Plant Makes Vodka on the Side

Tags: Canada | Italy

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