For two months the price of pasta in Italy has been soaring. Now the government has held an emergency meeting to debate whether or not to impose a price cap on the famous Italian staple, or whether some other form of government intervention is called for.
Data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) showed that in March the retail price of pasta jumped 17.5%, and in April it jumped a further 16.5%, compared to the same period last year. That was twice the national inflation rate of 8.8%. Because the spike coincided with a fall in the price of wheat, it raised concern over the possibility the increase was due to market speculation.
Held on Thursday, the emergency meeting brought together officials, producers, distributors, and consumer rights groups. After the meeting a special government commission chaired by Industry Minister Adolfo Urso issued a statement, saying that for the time being, the Italian government will refrain from intervening in the situation, since the general consensus was that the market will correct itself eventually.
In its statement, the commission said, “The latest price surveys are already showing the first, albeit weak, signs of price decrease, a sign that the cost of pasta may fall significantly in the coming months,” adding that authorities are acting to confront market speculation, as they continue to monitor the situation.
According to a statement by a spokesperson for Adolfo Urso, on Wednesday, many producers and distributors had already assured him that the rising prices are a temporary phenomenon,
One group which was not satisfied following the meeting however, was Italian consumer rights groups. Local media reported that one of the groups, Codacons, filed a complaint with the Competition Authority, and the Central Inspectorate, of Quality Protection and Fraud Repression, requesting various illegalities which led to the rise in prices be officially investigated.
The head of another group, Assoutenti, threatened to boycott pasta. Furio Truzzi warned that he is expecting “a sharp drop in pasta prices soon, if not, consumers will leave it on the shelves. We won’t buy pasta for 15 days.”