Consumers' associations in Italy have asked people to refrain from buying or eating pasta for the day, in protest against recent price increases.

The groups are requesting the government intervene to reduce pasta prices.

An increase in the price of wheat in recent months has forced pasta manufacturers to pass on the cost.

Pasta is a national dish in Italy, with each Italian eating on average 28 kg (62 lb) of pasta every year.

Dearer flour

The leader of one consumer association, Elio Lannutti, said the objective of the pasta strike was to forgo pasta for one day, in order to have more of it in the days to come.

Italian supermarkets may mark up pasta prices by 20% by the end of this year.

One large producer of the commodity, De Cecco, described the strike as symbolic, and said it expected little fluctuation in its market as a result.

"There is no dish that costs less," Furio Bragagnolo, the vice president of the Italian pasta manufacturers association told Associated Press agency. "Whoever decides to strike against pasta will spend more on whatever they buy instead. A plate of pasta probably costs less than an apple."

Global warming and the growing use of durum wheat as a bio-fuel are blamed for the steep rise in pasta prices.

The price for durum flour, the main ingredient for Italian pasta, has risen from 0.26 euro per kg (£0.18) to 0.45 euro per kg in the last two months.