Global pasta trade totaled more than 5.5 million tons in 2018/19 (wheat grain equivalent), with the top two exporters, Turkey and the European Union, accounting for about half of that total. Even though both countries produce some durum, their export-oriented industries rely on imported supplies.
Turkey allows duty-free wheat imports under its inward processing regime so long as the resulting products are exported. Thus, Turkey imports durum wheat, primarily from Canada, Kazakhstan, and Russia, then processes and re-exports the resulting pasta. A large proportion of Turkey’s pasta exports are destined for Sub-Saharan Africa.
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With its production relatively limited, the European Union allows for duty-free importation of durum wheat. EU imports of durum are primarily sourced from Canada and the United States, with smaller amounts from Kazakhstan and Russia. Italy accounts for the majority of EU durum imports. Italian pasta is then exported to a wide variety of markets. About one third of EU pasta exports are destined for the United States and Japan.
While global pasta exports are dominated by a few key players, imports, on the other hand, are more dispersed across a variety of markets. The United States is the world’s leading importer of pasta, but accounts for just over 10 percent of global trade. U.S. pasta imports come mainly from the European Union (Italy), China, and Canada.