The bucatini shortage of 2020

Among the items that were in short supply this year, pasta ranked near the top of the list. In March, I was shocked to see a huge swath of completely bare shelves where once sat myriad boxes of Barilla, Colavita, Rummo, and bevy of store brands. The only items that remained were a couple of sad whole wheat pasta products that proved people were not at a complete level of despair. Since the initial demand emptied store shelves, pasta companies both domestic and abroad have ramped up production and for the most part you can now find plenty of pasta. That is, however, for one shape: bucatini. Writing for Grub Street, Rachel Handler explores the mystery of why bucatini remains in extremely short supply in the US.

Part of the reason is obvious – since it is not a hugely popular shape, pasta manufacturers turned away from producing it in deference to more in-demand products like spaghetti. Likewise, it is more difficult to manufacture so that was another reason that companies shelved it in favor of different shapes. Increased demand is another culprit – the most popular NYT Cooking recipe, Alison Roman’s Caramelized shallot pasta, suggests using bucatini. But these reasons were only part of the story, as Handler discovered.

It seems that for some reason De Cecco brand bucatini (De Cecco is one of the top producers of the product) came under FDA scrutiny earlier this year for not having adequate levels of iron in its formulation. Why De Cecco was singled out for inspection is unclear, although Handler dives deeper into this strange development. While she has not yet been able to get to the bottom of the mystery, her investigation of the bucatini shortage is intriguing and we can rest assured that other than De Cecco, manufacturers have again begun to product bucatini again.

Photo of Bucatini all’Amatriciana from The Four Seasons of Pasta by Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins

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  • bookpoet  on  December 30, 2020

    What a great tale!

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