London, U.K. – Sales of pasta in Italy are down two percent in Italy and flat in Canada and other countries, and health concerns are the main reason, according to new research from Mintel.
Sales in Italy had a compound annual growth rate of -2% between 2011 and 2015, with sales falling to 908,100 tonnes in 2016. The compound annual growth rate for pasta between 2011 and 2015 was -2% in U.K., and completely flat in Australia, Canada, France, and the U.S.
Health is the reason this national cuisine has fallen on hard times. Indeed, today, almost one quarter (23%) of Italians say they are limiting the amount of pasta in their diet for health reasons, rising to 28% of those aged 55 and over.
Italy remains in the top three pasta eating nations. In 2016, only the Brazilians (1,223,500 tonnes) and Russians (1,184,900 tonnes) consumed more.
“Health concerns over carbohydrate intake continue to plague sales of pasta, especially in Italy where retail sales have been in constant decline every year since 2009,” said Jodie Minotto, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, in the release. “The rising popularity of protein and the resurgence of low carb diets have made for a challenging environment for pasta, which is being shunned in favour of foods perceived to be healthier or more supportive of weight management efforts.”
Europeans are limiting the amount of pasta they’re eating for health reasons, while n the U.S. a significant 41 per cent of consumers perceive rice and grains to be healthier than pasta, Mintel said.
Research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) suggests 14 per cent of pasta products launched in 2016 were gluten-free, up from just five per cent of those launched in 2012. Eighteen per cent were organic, up from 11 per cent launched in 2012. Eight per cent were whole-grain, up from five per cent launched in 2012.
“The trend for gluten-free and low carb diets and the vilification of wheat as a contributor to a variety of ailments, including weight gain, have contributed to the flat and declining sales of pasta in many key markets. As a result, the pasta category is vastly different to what it was even five years ago. Wheat-free, gluten-free and better-for-you options are now part of the standard pasta range. Consumer demand for natural, unprocessed foods has contributed to the rise in popularity of organic pasta, yet another option pasta brands now need to offer.”
As consumers shun carbs, some are starting to look for healthier alternatives. In the U.K., “better-for-you” is a choice factor for a quarter of consumers when buying pasta, the Mintel report said. Pasta made with ancient grains appeals to 22 per cent of consumers, while variants made with vegetables appeals to 30 per cent.
In terms of new product development, the organic claim leads the way in Europe and the U.S. In 2016, 28 per cent of all new shelf-stable pasta introductions carried an organic claim in both Europe and the U.S., while one in 10 introductions carried this claim in Asia Pacific. Low/no/reduced allergen was the second most popular claim in both Europe and the U.S., while over one in 10 introductions carried this claim in Asia Pacific and Latin America. Meanwhile gluten-free came in as the third most popular claim in the U.S. and Europe.
“All manner of ingredients are being used in next-generation ‘pasta’, the latest of which is seaweed. Sourdough fermentation is also being used to improve digestibility of gluten in wheat-based pasta,” Minotto said.
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