Home Bakery & Snacks Europe: More Italians are ‘pasta-phobic’ for better health, report

Europe: More Italians are ‘pasta-phobic’ for better health, report

Sales of pasta in Italy had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -2% between 2011 and 2015, with sales falling to 908,100 tons in 2016, reports Mintel.

Research reveals that health is the reason this national cuisine has fallen on hard times.

Some 23% of Italian respondents say they are limiting the amount of pasta in their diet for health reasons, rising to 28% of those aged 55 and above.

While Italians still consume the biggest volume of pasta per capita globally, they are cutting back on this traditional staple.

Mintel research finds that retail per capita consumption of pasta in Italy fell to 15.2 kg in 2016, down from 17.0 kg in 2011 and it also seems their tastes are changing.

In 2015, 7% of Italians said they consumed any gluten-free pasta, while 13% ate organic pasta and 36% wholewheat pasta.

By 2016, 33% of Italians said they had eaten gluten-free pasta, with 8% eating it once a week or more, while 63% had used or eaten organic pasta, with 21% eating it once a week more.

Meanwhile, 75% had eaten or used wholewheat or wholegrain pasta, with 30% eating it once a week or more.

Although Italians are turning their backs on tagliatelle, pappardelle and fettuccine, according to Mintel they remain in the top three pasta eating nations.

In 2016, Brazilians (1,223,500 tons) and Russians (1,184,900 tons) consumed more.

World facts

It is not just in Italy that consumers are curbing their love of pasta.

Across the globe ‘carbophobia’ is impacting sales.

According to Mintel, the CAGR for pasta between 2011 and 2015 was -2% in UK, and completely flat in Australia, Canada, France, and the US.

In the UK, as many as 22% of adults are limiting their carbohydrate intake for health reasons; meanwhile, 20% of consumers regularly substitute pasta, rice and noodles with vegetables in the style of familiar carbohydrates.

Across Europe, consumers are cutting down on pasta for the sake of their well-being, with 19% of those in Spain, 16% in Poland and 15% in Germany and France (respectively) limiting the amount of pasta they’re eating for health reasons.

Away from Europe, in the US a significant 41% of consumers perceive rice and grains to be healthier than pasta.

Pasta varieties

While hunger for pasta may be waning, brands are innovating to appeal to consumers’ shifting appetites.

Research from Mintel Global New Products Database reveals that 14% of pasta products launched in 2016 were gluten-free, up from just 5% of those launched in 2012.

Some 18% were organic, up from 11% launched in 2012, and 8% were wholegrain, up from 5% launched in 2012.

As consumers shun carbs, some are starting to look for healthier alternatives.

In the UK, ‘better-for-you’ is a choice factor for 24% of consumers when buying pasta.

Pasta made with ancient grains appeals to 22% of consumers, while variants made with vegetables appeals to 30%.

In 2016, 28% of all new shelf-stable pasta introductions carried an organic claim in both Europe and the US, while 10% introductions carried this claim in Asia Pacific.

Low/no/reduced allergen was the second most popular claim in both Europe (22%) and the US (20%), while over one in 10 introductions carried this claim in Asia Pacific (13%) and Latin America (12%).

Meanwhile gluten-free came in as the third most popular claim in the US (17%) and Europe (20%).