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Pasta is a popular choice for people's plates

Dry pasta has universal appeal, with 78% or 98 million U.S. households buying the food, said Joe Collins, 8th Avenue Food and Provisions commodities and risk management director

Durum wheat in a field ready for harvest
Pasta is made from durum, a variety of wheat.
Mikkel Pates / Agweek
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MINOT, N.D. — Demand for dry pasta remains strong and there is reason to believe that it will continue to be in the future, an industry watcher told farmers at the Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum in Minot.

The annual event, this year held Nov. 2-3, draws farmers, elevator managers, pasta industry representatives from durum areas in the United States and Canada.

Dry pasta has universal appeal, with 78% or 98 million U.S. households buying the food, said Joe Collins, commodities and risk management director for 8th Avenue Food and Provisions, a consumer products holding company that manufactures and sells private brand foods, including pasta, primarily to retail, food service and ingredient customers, according to the company's web site.

Pasta, which is quick, easy and convenient to prepare, makes it an especially attractive meal choice for families with young children, Collins said.

Meanwhile, though prices of dry pasta, like all foods, have risen during the past year, it still is one of the lowest priced staple foods in grocery stores, and a family can make a meal that is $1.55 per serving.

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A man in a blue shirt holding a microphone stands in front of a white screen.
Joe Collins, 8th Avenue Food and Provisions commodities and risk management director, was the keynote speaker at the Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum banquet held Nov. 2, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

"With the recession, dry pasta demand is going to stay very strong," he said.

In the past three months, volume sales of pasta have continued to increase, with growth of 1.7% to 5% compared with previous years, Collins said.

The strong demand for pasta has occurred despite earlier concerns that because of low-carb diet trends, younger generations would not eat as much pasta as the Baby Boom generation.

“The younger generations, Gen X, Gen Z, view pasta much more favorably than earlier thought,” Collins said.

The latter two generations appear to be more concerned about where their food comes from than about the level of carbohydrates.

Perceptions of the impact of durum production on the climate and environmental concerns will play a role in demand for the food in the future, Collins said. Pasta companies will embrace consumers’ desires to know about sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices and implement programs which show their commitment.

Collins predicts that other factors influencing the pasta industry in the future will include:

  • Convenience foods and products will remain popular items.
  • Whole grain products and benefits will remain in place, and it’s likely brands will reinforce the benefits of the products.
  • "Better -for-you” products will continue to be in the market. Those products include gluten-free, organic and multi-grain.
  • Frozen products, grain blends and flavoring likely will be reintroduced to the market.

Development of flavor-enhanced and better-for-you pasta could result in more pasta consumption by millennials who are looking for cost-effective and simple solutions that maintain their “foodie” reputation, but on a budget, Collins said.
Overall, the outlook for the pasta industry is positive.

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“If we keep pasta a good, healthy part of a balanced diet, we’ll have a sustainable market,” he said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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