Robust demand for pasta spurs record durum wheat use and strong imports
Companies usually create pasta and couscous with durum, a specific class of wheat. The United States typically consumes about 80 million bushels of durum per year, with pasta accounting for the bulk of this consumption. Toward the end of the 2019/20 (June-May) marketing year, U.S. durum used for food manufacturing expanded sharply as consumer demand for pasta products surged with the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Consequently, more durum was used for food manufacturing in the United States in 2020/21 and total durum food use reached a record high of nearly 88 million bushels. Not only did the domestic milling of durum for pasta increase, imports of pasta and couscous in 2019/20 rose 13 percent from the year prior. These imports surged an additional 21 percent in 2020/21. As the United States emerges from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021/22, imports of durum grain and products are expected to remain robust despite slowing consumer demand for pasta products. Widespread drought in key durum-producing regions in 2021/22 has dampened domestic production, thus import demand is expected to remain strong. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Wheat Outlook: September 2021.
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