Pandemic lockdown in the past year has altered food consumption patterns across the world as consumers stockpile staples like pasta and bread. Furthermore, the growing popularity of home-based cooking has boosted the demand for wheat-based pasta. Durum wheat in particular is used to make semolina which is the main base for most forms of pasta across the world. Last year, leading durum and pasta exporting countries experienced surging demand. As per the Stratégie Grains (SG), demand for durum wheat for the purpose of human consumption in the European Union (EU) has increased from 8.2 million tonnes in 2018-19 to 8.7 million tonnes in 2019-20. The volume has further increased due to recurring lockdowns and outbreaks of COVID-19 across EU countries.
On the production front, global durum wheat production has shrunk dramatically recently due to drought and heatwave in the United States and Canada. Production and harvest volume in Canada has shrunk by up to 46% in comparison to the previous year. Furthermore, the durum wheat crop is expected to drop by nearly one-third due to extremely hot, dry weather by the end of marketing season 2021. As the EU countries rely heavily on Canada as well as the United States (U.S), they are currently running low on supply.
German mills and bakers are complaining of an acute shortage of durum wheat as a result of the poor harvest in Canada due to high dependency on imported durum wheat It also imports a considerable amount of durum wheat from major European producer countries like Italy whose crop has also been affected by bad weather, putting upward pressure on the prices. The price of durum wheat has soared by 90% due to poor supply across the producer countries. In the coming months, pasta prices are predicted to rise, especially if demand remains high as the previous months.
With persisting dry and hot weather in North America, this summer durum wheat yield has fallen down severely reducing the production output. It is likely that Canada’s exports to the EU, particularly to Germany and Italy will fall by 50% by the end of the year. Reduced output has boosted durum prices to around USD 640 per tom (FOB) at the end of September in Vancouver which is more than doubling on the previous year. Due to the gigantic demand for pasta, EU countries cannot rely on production within the union and look for other sources of durum wheat. Australia has emerged as a savior by exporting 65,000 tonnes of durum in the first 12 weeks of the Marketing Year 2021/22 accounting for 23.1% of the total durum imports of the EU.