“We don’t even know how much we lose on orders. We make agreements with our customers more or less like playing the lottery”. Thus summarizes for the AGI the situation of the small and medium-sized food businesses Ciro Moccia, headed by his brother Antonino and sisters Marianna and Susanna of ‘The Pasta Factory’ in Gragnano. Moccia is in Cibus these days. “I have been coming to this fair since 1992 – he said – never have I seen a feeling of depressive anxiety so widespread. We all experience increases ranging on average around 40-45% on production costs in the last six months. This means that we have stopped investing and that we are afraid. This uncertainty has been drama since July 2021 “.
For him, on the expensive raw materials, the war in Ukraine “has nothing to do with it. It’s an excuse”. “On the other hand, speculations are underway by some multinationals and many wholesalers – Moccia points out – in the middle of last year the lack of durum wheat began and now we pay 85 cents for 48 cents per kilo. We are talking about grain from the supply chain, not particular grains, and even the large industrial production of pasta pays 78 cents per kilo “.
Then there was a second storm, “that of packaging. They come from China. It means that if a container cost us 3000 euros and arrived in two months, now it takes 18,000 euros and we have to wait six months. So you buy paper. , cardboard, plastic and glass in Italy; but this meant an increase in the price of cardboard by 128%, plastic by 100%, glass by 40%. All at the expense of our budgets “.
In addition, the entrepreneur points out, the Italian paper producers, for example, “have thought of earning well immediately, having stocks on the ground and have sold them to the Spaniards, so we struggle to even buy them”. With increases and new problems we must also deal with shipping the goods abroad: “The containers cost me 2000 euros each to send pasta from the United States and took a month to arrive, now they cost me 7000 euros and they also arrive. much later. ”
The large grain traders, “who bought at a fair price, now sell following the market rises and have often decided to do it to Tunisians or Turks, to have greater capital gains and earn more rather than supplying us Italians”.
“We are negotiating September deliveries – details Moccia – and they tell us that they can ask us the price 15 days before closing the contract. This generates even more uncertainty for us. There is no more stock grain and therefore there is also the uncertainty linked to the harvest. For example, the Apulian wheat that I buy has not yet been spiked and therefore we do not yet know what the price that will be applied will be “.
In the meantime, the pasta makers are forced to maintain the usual production, “because this allows us to reduce fixed costs, rent of structures or machinery, leasing, payment of employees, in my case 70. Then there are the gas bills, past from 4,000 euros to 22,000 euros, and that of energy, which went from around 4,000 euros to 15,000 euros “.
“I try to contain costs at the beginning of the perfect July storm – he adds – we should increase pasta by 50 cents per kilo (a half-kilo pack of artisanal product costs € 2.90 / 3, ed.), So that it remains a margin that allows us to break even. If I paid a million euros for semolina, it now costs me 1.6 million, while I needed 400,000 euros for packaging and now I spend 650,000. Employees are about 1,500 euros per head in their pockets, 3,000 in disbursement as regards us entrepreneurs “.
“All the small and medium-sized Italian companies, not only those of pasta, that is 90% of the companies in the Belpaese, are only at a loss – ventures the entrepreneur – and this media stress that makes us feel every day that prices will rise means that the consumer has reduced consumption, when in reality these possible increases in terms of pasta would have weighed on his purse for about 20 euros a year. When you go to a pizzeria, in a single evening, the buyer burns up all that would be the increase in costs for his annual supply of pasta. In addition, a kilo of artisanal pasta in cooking yields 1.8 kilos of industrial pasta “.