Consumer groups call pasta strike in Italy to protest increases in price of national dish

MILAN, Italy -- Be it fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti, Italians will soon be paying up to 20 percent more for their pasta. Consumer groups are calling for a one-day pasta strike Thursday -- not against eating it, but against buying it -- to protest the increase. But producers say the strike targeting Italy's national dish is wrongheaded because the price is linked to a global rise in the cost of grain. Pasta is an Italian staple, entwined with the national identity. It's not uncommon for families to discuss which pasta best fits that day's sauce -- tubular penne, twisty rigatoni or flat linguine. The average Italian eats about 62 pounds of pasta a year, on a peninsula so far untouched by low-carb diet crazes. "There is no dish that costs less," said Furio Bragagnolo, the vice president of the Italian pasta manufacturers association. "Whoever decides to strike against pasta will spend more on whatever they buy instead. A plate of pasta probably costs less than an apple." The increase in the price of pasta is being driven by rising wheat prices worldwide, economists and producers say.