Rice Shortage Hits San Francisco
A global rice shortage that has forced China and
Vietnam to curb overseas sales of the food staple has reached the
Bay Area, home of one of the largest concentrations of Asian-Americans
in the U.S. Stores, restaurants and food banks report dwindling
supplies, and retail prices are rising.
A Costco Wholesale Corp. store in San Francisco this week limited
rice purchases to five bags per customer. Later in the week, on
April 23, the outlet reduced that number to two.
Restaurant Depot, a wholesale company that supplies San Francisco
restaurants, is limiting rice purchases to 10 bags a customer,
said Thanh Pham, a manager at its San Jose location. ``Every single
type of rice is gone right now,'' Pham said.
The record prices of rice, wheat, corn and soybeans this year
have spurred social unrest in Haiti, Egypt and other countries.
The higher commodities prices are also pushing up U.S. food prices
and spurring inflation. The consumer price index climbed 0.3 percent
in March, after no change in the prior month, the Labor Department
said April 16.
Limits on rice purchases
will be felt the most in California and Texas, which have large
Asian and Mexican populations whose diets
rely on rice, said food consultant Jim Degen, principal of J.M.
Degen & Co. in Templeton, California.
About 32 percent of San Francisco's 744,000 people are of Asian
ancestry, and 14 percent are Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census
The shortage is affecting Bay Area charitable organizations, who
say the number of people seeking meals has increased just as supplies
are tightening. The San Francisco Food Bank will distribute some
rice from recently received truckloads it agreed to purchase last
year, though the price volatility means future stocks could decrease.
Excepts from Bloomberg.com