Everything except the shortage of pasta and pizza! Since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, Italians have been worried. Added to the surge in energy prices is that of cereals. Not to mention the strike by Italian transporters who shut down their engines in protest at the rising cost of fuel. In this context, keeping pasta factories running has become a real headache for Italian manufacturers and also for Italians who consume about 26 kg of pasta and 8 kg of pizza per capita every year.
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According to the various associations of agricultural professionals, Italy imports around 64% of its wheat and 53% of its maize for breeding. This dependence, which increases regularly, is linked to the disappearance during the last ten years of more than half a million hectares of agricultural land, warns the Italian Confederation of Farmers (Coldiretti). ” Last year, Italy imported more than 120,000 tons of wheat from Ukraine and about 100,000 from Russia. This dependence will cost us dearly given the context of the crisis which is likely to persist and not only in terms of cereal imports. “, explains Ettore Prandini, president of Coldiretti. Several manufacturers have already downsized, such as the La Molisana group, which produces 470 tonnes of pasta per day. Or Divella, which for its part produces some 1,000 tonnes of dry pasta per day, 35 tonnes of fresh pasta and 90 tonnes of biscuits. All for an annual turnover of 310 million euros.
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” Navigation in the Black Sea is blocked and our ships cannot enter ports, moreover, another of our ships which was to load high-quality protein Russian wheat has been blocked in the port of Rostov, the situation is catastrophic », laments Vincenzo Divella, managing director of the group of the same name. Since February 28, the manufacturer has decided to reduce the airfoil and place part of the staff on vacation. A first in the history of Divella caught between the anvil of soaring prices and the hammer of the transporters’ strike which is also raging in the Puglia region.
Loss of trade with Russia
” The government has signed agreements with some of the trade unions of transport professionals but not with the truck drivers of Puglia who do not have a union. Result: many of the mills in the region are closed and deliveries are interrupted told the Italian press the boss of Divella, who is already considering adjusting his prices. In one year, the price of Italian wheat has doubled, it has gone from 28 euros per quintal, the price displayed in June 2021 to 54 euros, foreign wheat is close to the 60 euro mark because of the war, produce in such conditions is unsustainable in the medium term, we have already negotiated an initial increase with our customers of 30 cents per half-kilo package, unfortunately, this is insufficient. »
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Other producers are much more cautious, such as the manufacturer Garofalo, which has an annual turnover of 220 million euros and a payroll of 222 people. “ We are sailing by sight, we cannot write lasting forecasts on costs given the evolution of the international situation which varies from day to day “, estimates Massimo Menna, managing director of Garofalo. For its part, the agricultural association Cia-Agricoltori already foresees a short-term increase of 20% in the price of pasta.
Mario Draghi’s government must therefore now settle the thorny issue of the transporters’ strike by releasing aid and finding solutions to the cereal crisis which is blocking the country. But also find a plan B to compensate for the losses of trade with Russia, one of the reasons why Rome dragged its feet a little before joining the sanctions.
Some political parties like the League of Matteo Salvini, but also Silvio Berlusconi, do not want to get angry with the master of the Kremlin, with whom they have many affinities. And industrialists who have close commercial ties with Russia do not want to lose their market share. According to Coldiretti, last year agri-food exports to Russia and Ukraine exceeded the billion euro mark. “ Exports of certain products such as wine, Prosecco, oil, pasta and coffee are at risk and a whole section of the Italian economy is threatened », Specifies the Federation of Italian Farmers.