Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Who knew a grain of rice would cause a global ruckus?


thrice2408.gifFood costs have been soaring worldwide, spurred by increased demand in emerging markets like China and India; competition with biofuels; high oil prices and market speculation. 

That situation has sparked food riots in several African countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food prices could hurt global growth and security.

But the effect of rising prices took a surprising turn this week– at least a surprising turn by U.S. standards — when it comes to sales of rice.

Rice prices in particular have surged this year as exporters curb supplies. Trade bans on rice have been put in place by India, the world’s second largest exporter in 2007, and Vietnam, the third biggest, in hopes of cooling domestic prices.