Global Food Crisis

Pizza Loses Favor as Italians Turn to Pasta

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"Pizzeria owners have other outlays as well. We have workers to pay, a rent for the place, and so on. All those expenses are on the rise too, and we have to take care of them," Pace said.

The only relief in sight, he added, is that "the bill of a dinner in a pizzeria has grown, but not as much as a dinner in a restaurant, and people who want to spend the evening out prefer the cheaper pizzeria."

And Carlo Rienzi, president of consumers rights association Codacons, added that these overhead costs are not the only culprits in pizza's price increases.

Global interest in the food had begun to ratchet up the price long before the current food crisis exacerbated the situation.

"In 2001 the mean price of a pizza in a restaurant was 3.36 euros. Today it's 7 euros. It has grown 108 percent in seven years," Rienzi said. "Prices have been pumped up opportunistically, pizza being important in our eating habits and appealing to millions of tourists visiting our country."

Pasta Gains Favor

As an alternative, Italians are relying imore heavily on their most basic staple, pasta, which remains among the cheapest foods in Italy.

"Pasta is on top of Italians' eating preferences. Its lovers increased from 37.9 percent to 46.9 percent in two years," said Giampaolo Fabris, sociologist at San Raffaele University in Milan and head of GPF Research Institute.

Even though prices have jumped 16.8 percent since April 2007, "consumption has dropped only 5 percent because pasta is a basic necessity," Rienzi, of Codacons, said.

"But something has to be done to stop this crazy trend and protect people's pockets," he added.

Last year, on September 13, major Italian consumer groups called a one-day pasta strike, asking people to boycott spaghetti and tagliatelle in shops and restaurants to protest against rising prices.

"Codacons wants the government to proclaim an emergency and intervene to bring down prices," Rienzi said.

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