The future of pasta is in less developed countries
24 December 201311 min reading
Claudio Zanão: “World pasta trade is also growing constantly. However, if we look at where global growth is coming from, we can see it is from consumers in regions where pasta is consumed the least such as Asia Pacific or Middle East/Africa regions. The pasta markets in these countries have grown very quickly from a relatively small base.
World pasta market continues to grow day by day. According to International Pasta Organization (IPO) Chairman Claudio Zanão; the countries that have just met the pasta have a more important effect on this growth rather than the current largest consumers. Considering that these countries would constitute an important potential for the growth of pasta sector in the future; IPO Chairman Zanão expresses his thought as follows: “As we have seen in recent years, the growth frontiers for the pasta industry will come from countries where it currently has an underdeveloped presence. In countries like China and India, consumers with rising incomes will become more likely to try new cuisines. As per capita spending on pasta is very small in these countries, the market has great potential for growth. The same is true in many countries in Africa and the Middle East, where dried pasta could serve as a low-cost staple that consumers can easily integrate into their diets.”
Emphasizing that growth is much slower in the developed markets; Zanão answered our questions about world pasta market. You can find the details in the interview.
Mr. Zanão, could you please give us some information about world pasta consumption, the leading countries in terms of consumption and the pasta consumption per capita in these countries?
According to our estimates, about 13.5 million tons of pasta is produced in the world. Italy maintains the primacy for production, production facilities, national consumption, consumption per capita and export.
The three largest producers of pasta in the world are Italy, with production of 3.3 million tons per year, the United States, with 2 million tons per year and Brazil, with 1.3 million tons / year. However, when it comes to consumption per capita; leaders are Italy, with 26 kg per capita per year, Venezuela, with 12.3 kg / person / year and Tunisia, with 11.9 kg / person/year. The following countries also recently increased their consumption rates Greece (10,6 kg), Spain (5,3 kg), Argentina (7,9 kg) and Peru (8,3 kg).
Could you also provide some information about world pasta trade? What can you tell about the leading countries in world pasta import and export and also amounts of import and export in these countries?
According to the Global Trade Atlas, world pasta trade volumes are estimated about 3.7 million tons in 2012 (+5% growth vs 2011). The leading exporting country is, of course, Italy, which, with about 1.8 million tons of pasta exports (+ 2% vs 2011), accounts for 49% of pasta world trade. The second largest exporter is Turkey, with about 437,000 tons exported, experiencing a very sharp growth in most recent years (+28% vs 2011). With export volumes ranging from 137,000 to 74,000 tons, Belgium, the United States, China, Mexico and France are also on the list of top exporters. Major importing countries are Germany (14% of total exports), United States (12%), France (11%), Japan (6%), United Kingdom (6%) and Canada (4%).
Can you evaluate the world pasta market and the change in this market in terms of both consumption rates and the pasta amount that is subjected to the world trade?
The global mass consumption trend is quite stable and strong, mainly due to pasta penetration, which is already quite large.
According to Euromonitor analysis, the global pasta market remains strong, as retail volume sales continue to grow. After advancing more than 1% in 2011, global volumes retail sales of pasta increased at least another 1% in 2012 to reach nearly 10.9 million tons. This indicates that consumers are increasingly turning to pasta as a convenient, nutritious and affordable meal choice.
World pasta trade is also growing constantly. After increasing more than 8% on 2011, global volume of pasta exported advanced another 5% in 2012. However, if we look at where global growth is coming from, we can see it is from consumers in regions where pasta is consumed the least such as Asia Pacific or Middle East/Africa regions.
As consumers in these areas continue learn more about foods outside of their traditional staples, they are opening up to pasta as a versatile calorie source that is affordable, convenient, and easy-to-prepare. As a result, the pasta markets in these countries have grown very quickly from a relatively small base.
In countries with more mature markets, on the other hand, consumers retain a strong interest in pasta and it is still growing. However, given the wide range of alternative meal options in these areas and the relative maturity of the market, growth is less dynamic.
What are the differences in the pasta consumption habits of the regions, continents or countries throughout the world? What are the pasta types and varieties that become prominent in the regions’ consumption? For instance; which pasta varieties are preferred most in Brazil?
While the pasta market remains strong overall, we can see strong regional discrepancies in consumption. On a per capita basis, Western European countries and North America far outspend others on pasta. The Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa regions, on the other hand, have pasta markets that are still largely underdeveloped. In these areas, per capita retail spending on pasta is much smaller than all other regions.
Some regions have pasta as staple food, especially Europe and North America. In these regions, most meals are based on some kind of pasta or potato. Therefore, these regions tend to have more varieties and shapes of pasta. In Italy, for example, there are 600 different formats. In other regions diet is more focused on other traditional staples like rice and noodles. In Brazil, for example, the daily diet is based on rice and beans. Therefore, the consumption here is limited to a few times a week, which means that we have only 50 different formats. Even so, spaghetti constitutes 57% of consumption and it is followed by fusilli with 14%. The remainder is divided in all other formats.
Do you think that pasta consumption habits have changed in the recent years? What can you say especially about the expectations of today’s consumers from pasta?
I believe so. Every season brings new eating habits, mainly driven by diets created by scholars. We recently face a major barrier due to the popularity of low carbohydrate diets, although today several studies have proven the harmful effects of this type of diet and show that it is important to have a balanced diet, including all nutrients.
In mature markets one major driver of growth in recent years has been health/wellness pasta (organic, high-fibre, fortified, gluten-free and reduced carbohydrate), value-added offerings that retail at higher unit prices, push up value sales, and encourage consumers to eat pasta more regularly due their health properties. According to Euromonitor, 11% of total pasta value sales in 2012 were of health/wellness varieties, a sizeable portion of the overall market.
Today’s consumer is looking not only for healthier foods such as wholegrain products, but also for convenience. Therefore, chilled/fresh products and instant noodles have also been growing in popularity. Consumers perceive fresh pasta as a gourmet option that is both healthy and easy and quick to prepare.
What is the future potential of world pasta market especially in terms of consumption? What are the reasons that prevent the increase of pasta consumption or what are the misconceptions of consumers about pasta? How can these misconceptions be changed?
As we have seen in recent years, the growth frontiers for the pasta industry will come from countries where it currently has an underdeveloped presence. In countries like China and India, consumers with rising incomes will become more likely to try new cuisines. As per capita spending on pasta is very small in these countries, the market has great potential for growth. The same is true in many countries in Africa and the Middle East, where dried pasta could serve as a low-cost staple that consumers can easily integrate into their diets.
If we look at more mature markets, growth is likely to be slower. In these areas, there is less room for expansion as well as strong competition from other foods. Although demand is likely to expand in regions like North America, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, growth will be slower than in the emerging regions.
Generally speaking, the spread of misconceptions about pasta’s nutritional characteristics could undermine the increase of pasta consumption. The main obstacle is linked to fad diets and the spreading myth that “carbohydrates are fattening”. I often say that the only thing that is not fattening is water. We always try to disseminate proven information about studies that confirm that the best way to lose weight is to eat with balanced nutrients. Our idea is to better inform people about proper nutrition.
Another barriers, harder to change, is the lack of pasta culture. We always work with the idea of increasing per capita consumption raising consumer awareness about pasta values. We believe that, particularly in countries that do not have a pasta culture, such as Brazil, there is enough potential to increase its consumption. For this it is essential that people diversify formats, recipes and sauces. In Brazil, for example, 57% of the consumption of pasta is spaghetti, while there are over 50 different formats.
Another way to raise pasta consumption is to teach consumer how to cook pasta properly. Consumers are becoming more interested in gourmet food. The rise of cooking television shows, celebrity chefs, and gourmet at-home cooking indicates that people are looking for an experience with their food.
Pasta is a versatile ingredient that can be used artfully and skilfully in a range of unique and diverse dishes. This trend has helped create opportunities for pasta endorsements.
Consumers, especially in regions where pasta is consumed infrequently, are becoming more and more aware of pasta as an affordable, convenient, and easy-to-prepare staple. These regions have tremendous potential for future growth.
Could you give some information about the role of International Pasta Organization in the pasta market and its activities?
The International Pasta Organization is a non-profit association dedicated to promote pasta consumption and awareness around the world. IPO’s Secretariat-General is run by AIDEPI (Italian Association of Confectionery and Pasta Industries). Since its establishment the Secretary General has been Raffaello Ragaglini.
IPO brings together associations and representatives of pasta organizations from 18 among the largest pasta producer and consumer countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Guatemala, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela).
The purpose of the IPO is to support the growth of world pasta market by explaining the concept and nutritional value of pasta. Our main goal is to increase consumption of pasta, so we try to guide our associates, gather and disseminate quality information to consumers and develop ideas for communication and promotional activities that can boost the sector.
We work very hard too in organizing congresses and exhibitions with scientists and technical experts. In support of its activities, IPO has also set up a Scientific Advisory Committee, consisting of internationally recognized experts in the field of pasta production, medicine and food science. Currently, as many as 25 experts from 17 different countries participate in this Committee.
Finally, what do you suggest to both the members of pasta industry and consumers? What would you like to add?
My suggestion for consumers is to always seeking for quality information. Before entering into any diet or choosing a way to lose weight, ask for the advice of a health professional, indicating the risks and benefits of each diet. For manufacturers, the information is also important. It’s good to be aware of changes in world consumption, consumer preferences and innovations of manufacturing processes to remain competitive.
We should take advantage of rapidly-growing rates of internet usage globally, using the internet and social media to engage and interact with their customers, developing our presence on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to interact with consumers.
Foodservice offers further potential. The global foodservice market continues to expand, and pasta can be an important part of this expansion. Global volume sales of pasta to foodservice channels are expected to rise in the future as economic recovery and consumer trends favoring convenience accelerate.
Our goal is to make more and more consumers, especially in regions where pasta is consumed very infrequently, aware of pasta as an affordable, convenient, and easy-to-prepare healthy and delicious food. These are the qualities at the basis of a strong potential for future growth.
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