Italy’s love for pasta goes off the boil
Sales of pasta in Italy continue to fall, despite the country being the biggest consumer of pasta per capita in the world
According to new research from Mintel, sales of pasta in Italy had a CAGR of -2% between 2011 and 2015, with sales falling further to 908,100 tonnes in 2016. The report found that 23% of Italians said they were limiting the amount of pasta due to health reasons, a figure that rose to 28% amongst those aged 55 and over.
It also seems that the taste for pasta is changing. In 2015, just 7% of Italians said they consumed any gluten-free pasta, while 13% ate organic pasta and 36% wholewheat pasta. By 2016, however, 33% Italians said they had eaten gluten-free pasta, with 8% eating it once a week or more, while 63% had used or eaten organic pasta, with 21% eating it once a week more. Meanwhile, 75% had eaten or used wholewheat or wholegrain pasta, with 30% eating it once a week or more.
Jodie Minotto, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said: “Health concerns over carbohydrate intake continue to plague sales of pasta, especially in Italy where retail sales have been in constant decline every year since 2009. The rising popularity of protein and the resurgence of low carb diets have made for a challenging environment for pasta, which is being shunned in favour of foods perceived to be healthier or more supportive of weight management efforts. New product development centred on positive nutrition and tapping into the ongoing interest in gluten-free food will help to polish pasta’s image.”
However, it is not just Italy where pasta sales are declining – according to Mintel, the CAGR for pasta between 2011 and 2015 was -2% in UK, and completely flat in Australia, Canada, France, and the US. In the UK, 22% of adults are limiting their carbohydrate intake for health reasons; meanwhile, 20% regularly substitute pasta, rice and noodles with vegetables in the style of familiar carbohydrates. Across Europe, consumers are cutting down on pasta for the sake of their well-being, with 19% of those in Spain, 16% in Poland and 15% in Germany and France (respectively) limiting the amount of pasta they’re eating for health reasons. And in the US a significant 41% of consumers perceive rice and grains to be healthier than pasta.
While hunger for pasta may be waning, brands are innovating to appeal to consumers’ shifting appetites. Research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals that 14% of pasta products launched in 2016 were gluten-free, up from just 5% in 2012. What’s more, 18% were organic (11% in 2012), and 8% were wholegrain (5% in 2012).
Minotto noted: “The trend for gluten-free and low carb diets and the vilification of wheat as a contributor to a variety of ailments, including weight gain, have contributed to the flat and declining sales of pasta in many key markets. As a result, the pasta category is vastly different to what it was even five years ago. Wheat-free, gluten-free and better-for-you options are now part of the standard pasta range. Consumer demand for natural, unprocessed foods has contributed to the rise in popularity of organic pasta, yet another option pasta brands now need to offer.”