In 2020, it has been confirmed that pasta is a weekly, or even daily, pleasure all around the world. Almost all French (99%), German (98%) and English (95%) people eat it, as well as 9 Americans out of 10, which seems incredible if we consider that the USA are the homeland of high-protein diets. It must be said that in these countries, the average per capita consumption is lower that in Italy: 9 kg per year in the USA, 8 in France and Germany, 3.5 in the UK and 23.5 in Italy. That means we are out of the score. In Italy everybody eats pasta and about 6 Italians out of 10 of all ages and mostly in the central-southern part of the country eat it every day.
A multi-country study commissioned to DOXA by Unione Italiana Food and ICE Agency, analyzed the trend regarding pasta consumption during the lockdown in Italy, Germany, France, UK and the USA, which account for more than one third of the global pasta consumption and are the reference markets for Italian pasta. This picture reveals that the pandemic changed the approach to pasta, and, on World Pasta Day’s eve, it leads to consider the value that consumers give to this product after such an important event.
More than the number of consumers, the most surprising element is the consumption frequency abroad: in all the studied countries, most people eat pasta 1 to 4 times a week, particularly 56% Americans, 85% French and 61% German people. 6 Americans out of 100 and 7 French people out of 100 even eat it every day.
This study by Doxa confirms one of the most iconic pictures of the lockdown: cupboards and shopping carts full of pasta. 1 consumer out of 4 (24%, or even 28% in Italy) said they increased their pasta consumption during the lockdown. In Italy the adults aged from 35 to 54 and those living in the South and in the islands were those who bought more pasta.
The reasons behind this choice can be found in rationality and gratification: in all countries, and mostly in France, the main reason is that “it can be easily and long stored” (59%), then that it is “good, and eating satisfying food is always helpful during hard periods” (40%), particularly for Italian and German people. Moreover, “everybody likes it and it unites people” (22%). Also, more pasta is consumed because “it is healthy” (25%), and a healthy diet has always been a plus during health emergencies like the Covid-19 one.
CONSUMPTION TRENDS, AMONG TRADITION AND WILLINGNESS TO TRY NEW RECIPES AND SHAPES
The lockdown (partly) changed the approach of pasta lovers, divided between rooted certainties and the willingness to try novelties. 26% of the sample (or more in Italy and France) cooked traditional recipes to feel better in an uncertain moment. 21% cooked more complex recipes, given the increased free time and, also, they tried “new recipes and cooking methods” (20%), they (mostly Italian and French people) bought “new shapes and types of pasta, like whole meal, legumes or gluten-free pasta” (15%). Curiously, 10% Americans ordered pasta via food delivery. Germany (51%) and the USA (43%) are the countries with the most “conservative” consumers, who did not change their habits.
LONG OR SHORT? THE DERBY IS ABOUT SHAPES
In the shapes derby, Italians prefer short and ridged pasta, while English and American people prefer long pasta. German people prefer it fresh (whether stuffed or not). French people, instead, prefer it short and smooth.
Everybody agrees at least on one thing: Italian pasta quality cannot be questioned. Indeed, made in Italy pasta is the first choice of world families. It is the favorite of 72% English families, 68% French families, 54% German families and 48% American families.
THE LOCAL CONSUMPTION TRENDS CONFIRM THOSE HIGHLIGHTED BY THE STUDY
According to a study by Nielsen, in France, pasta purchase increased by 114% in the first week of March and by 196% in the following one, immediately before the lockdown. One month later, the figures of the first week were doubled (+99%). Indeed, a study by Adot done at the end of the lockdown, revealed that 60% French people increased their pasta consumption. A study, again by Nielsen, about Coronavirus impact in the UK showed that pasta was the first food product bought during the week 1-7 March (+74%) and, at the end of the month, its sales increased by 55%. After years of stability, in the USA the local pasta makers had to increase their production instead, in order to respond to consumers’ demand. In Germany, the special trains that a supermarket chain sent to Italy to stockpile pasta were on the news during the pandemic.