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April 2024

Will the Rice Shortage Hit Store Shelves Near You Soon?

You probably don’t need to run to the store to stock up on this essential grain—here’s all you need to know about how a global rice shortage could impact you.

You may have already noticed that rice prices are higher than normal, which is largely due to the impacts of the war in Ukraine and erratic weather for the leading global suppliers of the grain. Now, India, the world’s largest exporter of rice, just banned nearly half of its overall shipments in order to reduce its domestic prices following heavy rains, which impacted the rice harvest. You might be asking, “What does this mean for me?”—we’ve got you covered. The good news is, if you’re worried about how the ongoing global rice shortage could impact your plate, you’re not alone, but you don’t need to panic. 

The export ban in India covers non-basmati white rice, meaning that the most popular types of rice in the U.S. won’t really be affected much. However, for some South Asian groups in the U.S.—particularly Telugu communities of Southeast India, many of whom prefer the banned rice varieties—the ban has led to panic buying at smaller stores and large outlets, inflated prices, and restrictions from specialty grocers on how much each household can buy.

cooked rice

The good news is that unless you like the specialty rice varieties that are impacted by the export ban, you don’t need to stock up. And some grocers have said those looking for the heavily impacted Sona Masoori rice variety don’t need to panic either—stockpiling may just prolong the issue. Restaurants and suppliers will likely be the most heavily impacted by any shortages.

However, the ban does have the potential to impact inflation rates—and therefore food prices—worldwide. In 2022, India shipped nearly 18 million tons of the now-restricted non-basmati rice to 140 countries, meaning that the global market will see the impact of the export ban. The U.S. is steadily recovering from a period of record inflation last summer, with food prices slowly returning to normal, but this development could add a small spike in price.

Plus, the ban comes just months after CNBC reported a 2023 rice shortage was poised to be the largest in the last 20 years, with a shortfall of nearly 9.6 million tons. Between heavy monsoons in China, flooding in Pakistan, and surging prices since Russia invaded Ukraine, the global grain market had already been suffering. Luckily, Fitch Solutions has predicted that prices should be back to normal by 2024, but the staple’s shortage is having harmful ripple effects for now.

The overall impacts on your dinner today might be minimal, but keep an eye on grain prices for the next few months—you may want to learn how to make rice alternatives to save some cash, or scale back on your family’s rice consumption until global prices settle. QR Code

Published Date: August 3, 2023

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