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Pasta Protest Urged in Italy as Food Prices Rise

pasta protest in Italy
The Assoutenti advocacy group urged pasta protest in Italy amid soaring pasta prices for the past several months. Credit: Roberto Zingales / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A consumer group has called for a widespread “pasta strike” across Italy in response to the soaring prices of this dietary staple, which have risen at a rate more than double that of inflation.

In March, prices rose by 17.5%, followed by a further increase of 16.5% in April, according to the data from Italy’s Ministry of Business.

The Assoutenti advocacy group is urging citizens to participate in a week-long national pasta boycott commencing on June 22.

The group’s call for action comes after the Italian government convened a crisis meeting last month but ultimately decided against intervening to regulate prices.

Assoutenti President Furio Truzzi expressed that the purpose of the macaroni strike is to test whether keeping pasta readily available on store shelves will lead to a decrease in prices. This strategy aligns with the long-standing Anglo-Saxon tradition of boycotting goods as a means of influencing market conditions.

Truzzi firmly stated that the current price of pasta is significantly disproportionate to its production costs.

Is it really a ‘greedflation’?

In Europe, grocery prices have experienced a steeper increase compared to other advanced economies like the United States and Japan.

This surge can be attributed to the rise in energy and labor costs, as well as the repercussions of Russia’s military engagement in Ukraine.

However, these price hikes persist despite the fact that the costs of food commodities, including wheat used in pasta production, have been decreasing for several months after reaching record highs.

Some critics have accused shops and suppliers of engaging in “greedflation,” artificially inflating profits.

However, economists contend that retail profits have remained stable, indicating that the root of the issue lies in the elevated cost associated with food production.

European governments taking measures to control prices

Under mounting pressure, several European governments have taken measures to address the issue of rising food prices. However, while these actions may appear favorable to the public, they can potentially exacerbate the problem further.

In France, the government has entered into a three-month agreement with supermarket chains, urging them to reduce prices on a wide range of essential items and other food products. This agreement is expected to be extended throughout the summer.

Similarly, the United Kingdom, which is grappling with the highest food inflation rates seen in 45 years, is discussing the implementation of a similar approach.

Countries such as Hungary, which currently faces the highest food inflation within the European Union, and Croatia, have resorted to imposing price controls on specific commodities like cooking oil, certain pork cuts, wheat flour, and milk.

Italian government rejects imposing price control

The Italian government shared its intention to enhance price monitoring by fostering closer collaboration with the country’s 20 regions. However, it has decided against imposing price limits on food items.

In contrast, Spain has opted not to enforce price controls but has taken alternative steps to alleviate the burden on consumers.

It has eliminated the value-added tax on essential products entirely and reduced the tax on cooking oil and pasta by 50%, setting it at a rate of 5%.

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