Pasta, once seen as a relatively
cheap and unimportant side-dish, is increasingly becoming a central part of
our diet, reveals a new report by leading global market analysts Euromonitor
International.

An increase in the number
of people travelling abroad, numerous food-oriented television shows and the
accessibility of Italian and other ethnic restaurants is driving demand for
pasta products throughout Europe. This trend is also being seen in Japan, where
pasta sales are benefiting from an Italian food boom, which is being fuelled
by media interest in Italian cooking both at home and in restaurants. For much
of French society, pasta is accepted as a basic foodstuff and eaten regularly.
According to the result of French consumer surveys over 50% of all French households
eat pasta several times a week.

Ready Made Sauces Cut Down Cooking Time
The retail positioning of pasta and noodles alongside ready-made sauces offers
the consumer a complete meal solution and is helping sales growth in the UK,
with real value growth reaching 6.9% in 1999 alone. Greater variety and authenticity
of flavours in jarred sauces for both pasta and ethnic foods, from brands such
as SACLA and Lloyd Grossman have enabled the consumer to quickly and easily
recreate foods, that they have tasted in restaurants and abroad, in their own
kitchens.

Italy Is Still The World’s
Biggest Pasta Consumer

Italy is not only the world’s biggest pasta producer but also the world’s the
world’s biggest pasta consumer. Italy recorded the highest level of per capita
consumption of pasta products in 1999, which amounted to an average 23kg per
head about three times that of Japanese consumers.

Average Volume Sales
of Pasta Products Per Capita by Country 1999

Kg
 
France
5.27
Germany
5.05
Italy
22.82
Japan
7.65
Spain
4.14
UK
2.98
US
3.27

Source: Euromonitor Market
Direction

In 1999, Japanese consumers,
however, recorded the highest spending in per capita terms, at US$55.44, over
US$19 per head higher than Italian consumers. Consumers in the UK, on the other
hand, registered the strongest increases in per capita consumption and spending
in national currency terms, up to 39% and 51% respectively over the 1995-1999
period.

Premium Pasta Boosts
Sales

According to industry sources, speciality pasta was the most dynamic category
in 1999. Speciality products include premium quality egg pasta, flavoured pasta,
and pasta with vegetables or spices, such as Valfleuri’s range Terre Lointaine,
which includes paella, chilli and curry flavours. Speciality pasta benefited
largely from its novelty appeal and added ingredients, thereby commanding a
high price. These efforts enabled value sales to increase by 9% between 1995
and 1999.

Sales of Chilled Pasta
Set to Grow

The trend for busier consumer lifestyles is expected to benefit sales in the
chilled sector as consumers continue to turn to products which offer convenience,
high quality and sufficient bulk to provide a substantial meal in their own
right, requiring few extra side dishes. Consumers’ perception of chilled pasta
as being of high quality has made it an increasingly acceptable substitute for
home-made pasta, with product innovation in terms of new flavours, fillings
and packaging boosting demand in 1999.