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Italy's government calls crisis meeting over surging pasta prices

FILE PHOTO: Hard times for Italy pasta makers as durum wheat supplies go soft

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Industry Minister Adolfo Urso called on Thursday for a crisis meeting over prices for pasta, the country's favourite staple, after they jumped by more than double the national inflation rate.

Urso's ministry said the cost of spaghetti and other pasta products rose year-on-year by 17.5% in March despite a drop in wheat prices. In that month, Italian EU-harmonised consumer prices (HICP) rose overall by 8.1%.

The crisis talks will be chaired by a government-appointed watchdog on inflation on May 11, and will mark the first meeting of a new committee set up to monitor unusual price movements, the ministry said.

Competent authorities and trade and consumer associations will take part in it, it added.

Italian inflation rose by even more in April to 8.8% year-on-year, driven by a fresh spike in energy prices, national statistics agency ISTAT said on Tuesday. 'Core' inflation, net of fresh food and energy, was stable at 6.8% year-on-year.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Alvise Armellini and Andrea Ricci)