Italian authorities refrain from capping pasta prices -Dlight News

Italian authorities refrain from capping pasta prices

Italian authorities have avoided capping pasta prices and assured consumers that the market will readjust after the price of the staple food rose at double the rate of inflation for two consecutive months.

Industry Minister Adolfo Urso called an emergency meeting on Thursday as the unexpected increase sparked public unrest and concerns about market speculation hurting consumers.

Pasta box prices rose 17.5 percent in March and 16.5 percent in April compared to the same period last year, according to Italy’s statistics agency Istat, double the national inflation rate that reached 8.8 percent last month.

Thursday’s meeting included government officials, manufacturers, distributors and consumer associations, some of whom called for price caps or other interventionist measures.

But the ministry was adamant and said the market would correct itself soon, as energy prices were falling and prices of raw materials like durum wheat and semolina were also coming down.

“Although weak, the latest price surveys already show first, signs of price reduction, which is a sign that pasta prices may drop significantly in the coming months,” said a government statement released after the meeting.

Urso said the ministry is doing everything possible to avoid speculation. “We don’t want to stir up controversies but we need to be transparent for the benefit of consumers,” he added.

The minister claims that the sudden increase was due to manufacturers and distributors selling pasta that was made when raw material and energy prices were high.

“Companies say the current prices are due to stock disposals, when the cost of raw materials was higher,” Urso said.

The government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who came to power last year as a hard-right politician who campaigned on populist concerns, has set up a special unit within the industry ministry to monitor the price of Italy’s goods and services. Benedetto Mino, a public servant nicknamed Mr Prezzi (Italian for “price”), has been appointed at the helm of the unit and presided over Thursday’s pasta meeting.

Pasta is one of the favorite and most consumed foods of Italians. According to consumer association Kodacons, a citizen eats about 23 kilograms of pasta every year.

Consumer organizations complained after the meeting. The National Consumer Union described it as a “flop”. Assoutenti president Furio Truzzi threatened a boycott, according to local media. He said he expects “pasta prices to come down sharply soon, if not, consumers will leave it on the shelves. We will not buy pasta for 15 days.”

Kodacons announced that it had filed a complaint with the competition authority “to ascertain possible illegalities on the trend of retail prices of pasta”.

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