This weekend, I was shopping at the grocery store and found that the Lasagna was priced at about double per pound compared to other pasta shapes. That got me wondering if different pasta shapes are more/less hard for factory machines to make, or if these prices differences have more to do with consumer preferences? Is it somehow harder to build machines that make certain shapes? Are there other considerations I am missing that might cause some pasta shapes to be costlier than others to manufacture?
Another consideration would be packing density; a pasta like orzo will pack much more densely than, say, farfalle, which will affect transport costs. For lasagne there is also the question of how much is needed in a typical portion; if you think in terms of 'cost per quantity I will use at once' this will give a different result to 'cost per mass' in cases of (say) lasagne sheets versus macaroni.– dbmag9Feb 17, 2022 at 19:15
1Not sure what kind of lasagna is common where you live, but often lasagna sheets are actually pre-cooked, sometimes labelled as "oven ready" or if you read the instructions it will say no pre-cooking is required, so there's more processing involved with these than standard dried pasta.– Billy KerrFeb 17, 2022 at 22:46
@BillyKerr oven-ready lasagna sheets are just thinner than regular ones so they have time to cook through in the oven, they aren't pre-cooked. And you can use the same technique with regular lasagna noodles, it just takes longer and you have to add a bit of liquid.– EstherApr 8, 2022 at 17:35
@Esther - I disagree. I've seen some that are pre-cooked, and then dried. In fact I have some in my pantry.– Billy KerrApr 8, 2022 at 17:42
It's likely the handling and packing that's responsible for the higher price.
Among all the common dry pasta shapes typically sold in the grocery stores, lasagna sheets seem to be the most fragile.
Unlike many dry pastas that are kept relatively compact in plastic bags, dry lasagna sheets needs to be kept in like-shaped boxes to minimize breakage, and even then, a few sheets may get cracked from shaking around.
I'm not entirely sure if this is the main reason, but that's how I reason with it.
1You could make this a complete answer by saying that the handling & packing is probably responsible for the extra cost. Which it probably is. Feb 18, 2022 at 23:03
Yes, some shapes require more sophisticated equipment to make, and as a result those will be priced higher. Cavatappi, troife, busiate, fregola de sardo, and any kind of filled dried pasta are examples of this. Some can't really be extruded at all, some need to be extrduded slower/more carefully, and others require post-extrusion processing.
Other shapes are not actually harder to extrude or dry, but are simply obscure, and as a result are only made/imported from companies who make pasta in smaller batches, and thus price higher. Generally, this small-batch pasta is also made with better processes (bronze dies and slow drying) that makes it more expensive to produce as well. Examples of this would include casarecci, gigli, and bucatini.
Finally (per Anastasia's answer), some pastas are packed in such a way that makes them more expensive to pack, ship, and handle, which is then reflected in the sale price. This would include your lasagna noodles, as well as conchiglioni (big shells), vesuvio, and fettuccine sold in "nests".
It might be simpler to say that only "mainstream" pasta shapes that can be made quickly and cheaply and easily and tightly packed are cheap. Everything else is more expensive.