MINOT, N.D. — Research is showing that farmers who are willing to make changes in the way they produce hard red spring wheat and durum can see benefits, including increased demand.
“Demand is strong,” Nora Stabert, Philadelphia Macaroni executive vice president, told farmers, elevator managers and industry watchers at the Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum held in Minot Nov. 1-2, 2023.
“Pasta is a large and stable category, ubiquitous across at-home and away-from home markets with room for steady growth,” Stabert said.
Philadelphia Macaroni, based in Pennsylvania, has several plants across the United States, including in the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota. The company also has a division called Minot Milling in Minot, North Dakota, which specializes in organic milling of durum and hard red spring wheat.
Food companies that produce pasta and restaurants who serve it are responding to consumer demand.
For example, Goodles is marketing a healthier macaroni and cheese, which is easy to prepare.
“Convenience is incredibly relevant,” Stabert said.
Meanwhile, Darden Restaurants has brought back Olive Garden’s “Never Ending Pasta Bowl,” which gives diners a choice of choosing fettucinie, spaghetti, angel hair or rigatoni pastas, a sauce and topping.
Farmers who raise hard red spring wheat and durum for pasta production, like producers of other commodities that are used to make food, are being encouraged to adopt sustainable practices.
The “emerging sustainability landscape” is being fueled by federal policies and private food companies.
The U.S. Agriculture Department’s
, for example, is investing $3.2 billion across 141 selected projects, during the next one to five years that will be designed to expand markets and revenue streams across agriculture and forestry, more forward sustainable practices on more than 25 million acres of land and sequester more than 60 billion tons of carbons.
“Policy is supporting progress in sustainable agriculture programs, and those that can adapt quickly to address new requirements will be well-positioned to take a share,” Stabert said.
Consumers in the United States appear to be concerned about whether or not their food is produced sustainability, she said. Retail companies that have made claims they are dedicated to environmental, social and governance issues, including having a climate change strategy, grew by 6% between 2018 and 2022, 1.7% more than companies that didn’t make those claims, according to a study by McKinsey and Company and NielsenIQ.
Food companies, including Coca Cola, Kraft Heinz and Generals Mills, have responded to consumers’ concerns about reducing emissions by setting goals. Kraft’s goal, for example, is to reduce emissions in half by 2025 and achieve net zero emissions by 2030.
The company in 2017 also announced a goal to source all of its eggs globally from cage-free or better hens by 2025, and other food companies have followed its example.
The cage-free eggs adoption by companies shows that commitments have the ability to fundamentally change an industry, Stabert said.
As the critical input to pasta, wheat growers are being asked to participate in sustainability program,; a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor, shape programs to have the most impactful outcomes and benefit from pilot/partnership programs, she said.
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: email@example.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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