Italy’s Pasta Crisis, Explained

High pasta prices are forcing Italian citizens to take drastic action.

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Italian pasta rigatoni alla carbonara
Photo: FVPhotography (Shutterstock)

The unthinkable is happening: Italians are boycotting pasta. The reason? You might be unsurprised to hear that the culprit is inflation, the same nasty market force that has led to so much grocery-related frustration in the past year. ABC News reports that this staple of Italian cuisine (and Italian life in general) has shot up in price to the point where citizens are beyond pissed, and many are now calling for action.

Why Italians are boycotting pasta

Even in a market where rising costs are affecting all groceries, pasta’s spike in Italy is unusual—its cost has risen twice as much as the inflation rate, resulting in a particularly steep price tag. But unlike other governments in Europe, which have capped the prices on certain staples, the Italian government has declined to intervene in pasta pricing. Officials gathered in an emergency meeting in Rome last month to discuss the issue, but ultimately decided not to cap prices, having received assurance from producers that the spike is only temporary.

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This move has angered citizens, to the point where one consumer advocate group, Assoutenti, is calling for a pasta strike to start on June 22. The hope is that if enough people refuse to buy pasta at its current price, the cost will go down. It would take quite a bit of solidarity among Italian consumers to move the needle, but the statement would be all but possible to ignore. Just imagine if American citizens boycotted french fries for even a week.

Italy has called a pasta boycott before

This isn’t the first time a so-called macaroni strike has been called in Italy. A previous boycott was called in 2007 in response to a similar situation involving rising wheat prices. A member of consumer advocacy group ADOC said at the time, “The pasta strike is symbolic, a call for Italians to make a sacrifice — to sacrifice something we can’t give up, even when we travel abroad.”

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The 2007 strike was short-lived, lasting only for one day. TIME notes that the latest pasta strike suggested by Assoutenti is intended to last a full week, which if broadly adopted could deal quite a blow to the industry. The only pasta I’ve ever heard of Italians rejecting en masse was this controversial carbonara, so our thoughts are with Italian consumers as they mount their latest protest. If pasta prices don’t come down, I guess there’s always pizza.