Did you know that there are more than 45 different types of pasta, and each one has a unique purpose? You can probably name a few off the top of your head but have you heard of orecchiette or tagliatelle? Unless you grew up around authentic Italian food most of these pasta types will not be familiar.
In 2016, dollar sales in the pasta category totaled $2,199,040,256, up 3.4% from the same period in the previous year. For the same period, unit sales decreased 1% to 1,549,038,848.
Although the average price per unit of noodles during the period increased 12c per unit, and the average price per unit of spaghetti, macaroni and other pasta shapes rose 6c per unit, sales kept on increasing.
So, why are people willing to pay more for pasta?
The gains may be attributed to a few trends that have taken hold in the industry. Pasta is already widely known as a convenient product and manufacturers have found ways to make their products even easier for people to prepare. They’ve also tapped in to trends such as organic and gluten-free, and that has consumers searching for alternatives to fit a certain lifestyle.
The world’s largest pasta producer, Barilla Group, Parma, Italy, is on a drive to convince Americans that spaghetti, penne and lasagna are healthy food. One serving of pasta sauce has about 8 grams of sugar, or about two teaspoons. For comparison, one cup of the colorful children’s cereal Trix has about 10 grams of sugar. Barilla is also working at reducing salt, sugar and fat in all its products.
Even with reduced calorie sauce, pasta still faces a perception problem, thanks to anti-carb diets like Paleo and Atkins that emphasize fats and proteins. Barilla hopes to try to distinguish pasta from simple carbohydrates such as donuts and white bread. The company has determined that customers are willing to pay more for whole grain, added nutrients and convenience.
New World Pasta Co has in the last six months started to put itself in position to meet demand for gluten free and non-bioengineered food products. The company began making Ronzoni gluten free pasta in the United States in January.
Paul Galvani, senior vice-president of marketing for New World Pasta, explains that this move will enable the company to meet increasing consumer demands for gluten free pasta options.
Ronzoni gluten free pastas provide 19 grams of whole grains from a blend of brown rice, white rice, quinoa and corn. It is available in a variety of cuts, including spaghetti, elbows, rotini and penne rigate. New World Pasta also received Non-GMO Project Verification for its American Beauty, San Giorgio, Ronzoni, Creamette, Prince and Skinner pasta products in February. The company said this further shows its commitment to responding to new, consumer driven food trends, and providing consumers with product information.
Galvani noted that consumers want to know not just what’s in their food, but also where it comes from. Consumers are in fact demanding transparency in food labels. More than 200 pasta products under New World Pasta’s key brands will soon feature the new GMO verification seal.
Gabriella’s Kitchen launched an online store in January, showing its commitment to reaching U.S. consumers. This will allow the company to deliver all its skinnypasta products across the United States. The Gabriella’s Kitchen product range includes three lines of pastas marketed under the skinnypasta brand: skinnypasta gluten-free, skinnypasta high protein and skinnypasta superfood teff penne.