Empty supermarket shelves have been a common sight in the past few weeks. In almost every affected country around the world, the public has been jolted into ‘panic-buying’ – stocking up on items they believe to be essential during periods of self-isolation.

Toilet rolls have become a currency in themselves, whilst staples like eggs, bread, and tinned vegetables have all flown from the shop shelves.

The popularity of pasta

Dried pasta, produced in Italy, has also seen a huge increase in demand. As a versatile ingredient with a shelf-life of up to three years, many see it as the ideal pantry-filler in times of need.

Just how popular it’s been can be gaged with a glance at some data published by Nielsen, a consumer insights company. Here are the main takeaways by country:

  • UK – Week-on-week purchases of dried pasta increased by 74% in the period 01 March – 07 March.
  • Germany – The week 04 March – 10 March saw a 93.6% increase in sales of dried pasta when compared to the same week the previous year.
  • France – Whilst there aren’t any reliable statistics on pasta sales in France as a whole, Mathilde Moussard, a senior consultant at Nielsen has said ‘…pasta symbolises the customer phenomenon of hoarding, with some outlets completely depleted of stocks, especially in the Paris region and in the Oise. In some stores, pasta sales have even multiplied by five times…’.
  • Italy – Pasta sales in our own country, currently the worst affected by coronavirus, increased by 56.7% in the first week of March, compared to the last of February.


Pasta production during coronavirus

Despite some of the most challenging conditions ever experienced in peacetime, Italian pasta manufacturers are keeping pace with unprecedented demand.

Michel Liquidato, a sales director at Molisana, was reported by French publication rFI a as saying, ‘Since the beginning of February, output is up more than 50% in Italy.’

This surge has been achieved through a reliance on automated production techniques as well as the introduction of extra shifts, meaning that pasta can be made around the clock. A focus on simpler pasta shapes (such as penne) over more complicated ones (fusilli) is further streamlining the process and enabling Italian factories to meet an increased global demand.


Demand going forward

What we’ve seen across different countries is that panic-buying tends to last only for a couple of weeks, before a new normal is established. Long-life products like pasta which are bought in high-volume during this period are likely to see a drop in demand in the mid-term. This reduction is down to the fact that consumers will gradually use up their stocks and won’t need to replenish them at such a frantic rate.

Whilst it’s true that demand is likely to drop after this initial period, it may still be slightly higher than before the pandemic erupted. As more people are self-isolating at home and eating out less (if at all, due to local laws), it’s likely that supermarket sales across a range of food categories will continue at a moderately increased rate.


Coronavirus has caused a rupture in our everyday lives, causing many to buy unnecessarily large quantities of food and other essentials in a panic. This frenetic wave of purchasing has placed supply lines under considerable strain but importantly, has not broken them. Italian producers, in particular, have withstood enormous pressure in the most challenging of circumstances and continue to deliver the highest quality of produce with minimal disruption to the consumer. As Europe and the rest of the world enter the next phase of this uncertain period, rest assured Italian produce will still line supermarket shelves.



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