‘Out of control’ durum wheat market expected to cause pasta shortage

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Durum wheat is used to make pasta, polenta, couscous, breads, pizza crusts and some sweet goods. Pic: GettyImages/Ninel Roshchina
Durum wheat is used to make pasta, polenta, couscous, breads, pizza crusts and some sweet goods. Pic: GettyImages/Ninel Roshchina

Related tags: Durum wheat, price hike, Shortage, Pasta, Canada, French wheat, hard wheat, soft wheat

Inclement weather in Canada and Europe is resulting in a spike in the price of raw material, which – along with increases in freight – is spiralling the durum wheat market ‘completely out of control’, according to Eurostar Commodities.

The price of durum wheat has mushroomed by approximately 90%, thanks to poor weather that is expected to affect the quality and yield of the 2021 harvest. Canada – the world’s leading durum wheat producer – has experienced extreme heat and scarce rainfall since seeding.

Canada’s 2021 durum wheat harvest has been revised down by more than one-third from 5 million tonnes to only 3.4 million tonnes, sparking speculation that there will not be enough durum wheat for the demand that exists globally.

Poor weather in Europe is also affecting the harvest, with French wheat, in particular, experiencing a poor year due to excessive rain.

Durum is the second most cultivated species of wheat after common wheat. It is ground down into semolina to make a number of products like pasta, polenta, couscous, breads, pizza crusts and some sweet goods.

Eurostar Commodities – a UK family-owned ingredients specialist – has warned this will have a knock-on effect on prices at retail level.

Shortages, spikes and substitution

“The market is completely out of control and as a result there has been an approximately 90% increase in raw material prices as well as increases in freight,”​ said Jason Bull, director of Eurostar Commodities.

“This is a dire situation hitting all semolina producers and all buyers of durum wheat across the globe. Companies are buying at record high prices and farmers are holding onto wheat and driving the price up.

“We expect to see shortages on supermarket shelves and increasing prices which will ultimately be passed onto consumers. We may also see substitutions whereby pasta will be produced with soft wheat flour rather than hard durum wheat.”

Related topics: Ingredients, Milling & Grains, Markets

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