Friday, September 29, 2023

U.S. Durum Production Increasing While Food Use Remains Stable

by Colter Brown

U.S. production of durum—the primary class of wheat used to produce pasta—is expected to increase in the 2022/23 marketing year after last year’s drought reduced production to its lowest in 60 years. Production in 2022/23 is forecast at 64 million bushels, up 70 percent from the previous marketing year (2021/22), but below the average of the previous five years (2016/17–2020/21).

Durum used for food in the 2022/23 marketing year is estimated at 80 million bushels, close to the historical average and slightly above 2021/22. Food use of durum was elevated in marketing years 2019/20 and 2020/21, fueled by surging consumer demand during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, when shoppers stocked up on pasta while in quarantine. While the surge in demand has since subsided, consumer prices for wheat-based products including pasta are up substantially in 2022.

Line graph showing production of durum (wheat often used for pasta) in the U.S. from 2012/13 to 2022/23 (forecast), with a bar graph with noodle canisters representing food use over the same time period. Chart also includes a fork with pasta graphic.

This year’s larger durum crop, along with larger Canadian production, has eased some supply pressure; however, high commodity prices in general and elevated input, labor, and energy costs have each contributed to higher prices for the manufactured products of wheat, including pasta. The United States imports and exports durum every year, with imports typically larger. Net imports rise in years when production is lower.

With the variability in durum production, prices have been volatile over the past three years. In mid-October of 2020, the average durum price in Montana according to USDA was $5.41 per bushel. One year later, the price nearly tripled rising to $15.93 in October of 2021. As production returned to more normal levels in 2022, prices did moderate with the current average durum price sitting at $9.31



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