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Pasta Strike, And Climate Change, Stirring The Pot In Italy

  • September 8th, 2007
  • Posted by Ingrid Rubie

pasta.jpgItalian consumers are being asked to give up their great favourite, pasta, one day this week (13.9.07), in protest against price rises flowing on from a world shortage of wheat.

The boycott has been organised by one of Italy’s consumer organisations wanting to see a sudden five percent drop in consumption — and news of it has been spread far and wide.

Riccardo Schirru from the Italian radio station Rete Italia in Melbourne says abstinence has been called for, this Thursday, in every part of the Old Country.

“It is basically a request in all the Italian squares, especially in Rome”, he says.

“There is a request that no one buys pasta on that day.”

The cause comes down to shrinking world stocks of grain, thanks to bad climate conditions and poor harvests in places like the Ukraine and Australia.

Australian producers apologise for the tightening-up, on what has always been depended upon as a cheap yet delightful staple; but they have to point out it can’t be helped.

Tony Smith, a senior commodity trader with Plum Grove Commodity Trading Solutions, advisers to the agricultural trade, said he was watchful of chaos that higher prices could cause around the globe.

“We’re seeing some panic setting into the market now,” he said.

Bloombergs report that Australia had been expected to double last year’s production of a “drought-ravaged 9.8 million metric tons”, which contributed to a 96% increase in world prices, but that more dry weather might now delay the recovery.

Kim Chance, Agriculture and Food Minister in the wheat growing state of Western Australia, said the national harvest could be less than 80% of the revised target.

“Output in Australia, forecast to be the world’s third-largest wheat exporter, may fall as low as 16 million metric tons,” he said.

Global wheat stocks are expected to fall to 114.8 million tons by 31.5.07, the lowest in 26 years, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

At the consumer end, all this explains why people in Italy are going to be missing out on the accustomed pleasure of a plate of pasta: whether by boycotting it for the day, eating less, or getting used to paying a lot more.

Reference:

“Italy to boycott pasta for a day”, ABC News (Australia), 3.9.07.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/03/2022981.htm (6.9.07)

Madelene Pearson, “Wheat Futures Rise to Record on Global Demand, Supply Concerns”; “Australia’s biggest wheat growing states need rain”, 22.8.07; “Wheat Futures Rise to Record on Global Demand, Supply Concerns”, Bloomberg.com, 6.9.07.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a51Lj9SoC_hj&refer=home (6.9.07)

Cornwell, T. “Italians set to boycott pasta as the price of wheat reaches record highs,”: 6.9.07. NEWS.scotsman.com
http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1420072007 (7.9.07).

Picture: Whole wheat fusilli, google – all-creatures.org

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