(ANSA) - Parma, August 31 - Historic Italian food company Barilla is to respond to the global economic downturn by focusing on its core business of producing pasta, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Strategies include launching a chain of own-brand pasta restaurants in the US, where "there is undoubtedly potential for expansion" according to company chairman Guido Barilla. In 2011 Americans ate an average of 19.4 pounds of pasta each compared to 57.3 pounds for Italians, the paper said. The restaurant launch is expected to start with a pilot eatery that is due to open by the end of next year. The company based in Parma is also selling off non-core assets such as certain bakery products and is to use the extra funds to expand its pasta and pasta-related business including ready-made sauces and meals. In 2011 Barilla had an overall revenue of 3.9 billion euros, of which 365 million euros was generated in the US.