Why is rice so damn expensive?

Why does rice cost so muchFor those of you that don’t know, I’m Cambodian-American. I was born in Houston, but that doesn’t change the fact that I, like 3 billion other people on Earth, live on rice. Specifically, Thai Jasmine Long Grain rice. I have some with almost every meal and if I don’t, I’m often not satisfied until I do. So you’ll imagine my surprise to hear that the price of rice has almost -DOUBLED- in the last week or so. Instead of the ~$12.99 per 25 pound bag I’m used to paying, in some places it’s now $22.99! And that’s if you can even find some! Seriously, the Hong Kong Supermarket in Arlington only had one brand last weekend instead of their normal 5-6 brands. And that stuff looked like it was going fast. Ok, I can handle eggs and milk doubling in price. Or gas becoming a luxury that only kings can afford. But NOT my rice! Please?

So, why the sudden increase in price? Well, if you’re reading this… it might be your fault! Yes, there has been some speculation that demand is going to be more that supply. And the cost of food and gas are up in general. But a major factor in this price increase is public hoarding. Prices started going up and people freaked. Everybody and their moms (including my mom actually) started stockpiling rice like no tomorrow. Here’s an excerpt from a news article:

“There is enough rice supply for domestic consumption”, Mingkwan told reporters late yesterday in Nonthaburi province, near Bangkok. “The current shortage has been caused by some hoarding and panic buying on concern the price will rise further.” There is no need to reduce exports, he said.

Rice, the staple food for about 3 billion people, has nearly doubled in the past year on increased imports by the Philippines, the biggest buyer, and as China, India and Vietnam cut exports. Record food and fuel prices have stoked inflation, contributing to strikes in Argentina, riots in Ivory Coast and a crackdown on illicit exports in Pakistan.

So why is rice so damn expensive? Because the world hates you.


Bloomburg Asia


This article has 8 Comments. Click to view!

8 Comments to “Why is rice so damn expensive?”

  1. albert
    April 13, 2008

    I totally agree with you in your observation and insights about rising price of rice. As a Filipino-American living in San Diego, CA, I also noticed the price increase of rice here. Seafood City (an oriental market) is the market of choice for most of us Filipinos. For the last two to three weeks, the price of rice (imported from Thailand and Vietnam) has nearly doubled.

    Considering other factors, such increase in oil price, and possibly increase in export prices and taxes, I still believe that majority of Oriental and Asian groceries are taking advantage of the current situation. No doubt, these groceries are price gouging.

    Unless, these groceries can prove that there’s really an increase in price of their rice importation, the price of rice should be stable.

    U.S. even offered to help Asian countries to supply them with rice. So, why are we having or paying for the excessive price of rice in our groceries?

    I am challenging any investigative reporters to do an investigation on this abuse. Actually, I plan to contact all the editors of local Filipino-American newspapers in my area. They have the responsibility to give us unbiased information.

  2. roatha
    April 13, 2008

    That sounds like a great idea. I’ll send a few letters out myself!

  3. Shimmy
    April 24, 2008

    yah! fat cheese burgers are better anyways. i eat them in my bathtub while wearing floaties. king tut once said, “if there is a goldfish in my pants, i would be the first to know.” let’s all take his advice during these troubling times.

    if rice can fit in a bag and travel around the world then surely we ought to be able to do the same–this probably explains the terrorist attacks on the world trade center, if you think about it.

    furthermore, i eat paper. do you? if you don’t please start. it’s white just like rice and doesn’t contribute to global warming, or cooling.

  4. Trang
    April 24, 2008

    I agree with Shimmy–if that is real name. Perhaps there is much more complex factor at work in this rice inflation. As a Vietnamese-American living in Alaska, I have seen devastation of rice paddies in my homeland and will not rest until the natural habitat is restore to that of Jurassic Park nature. Think of what it look like when Velociraptor and Tyranasauraus ate rice there. Much different then now. Maybe prices will come down when most important issue is addressed.

    I love rice. I eat it with every meal like most Asian. Let’s work to stop destruction of nature together!

  5. clownboy5091
    April 29, 2008

    shimmy is right; the factors are vast. yet why do asian markets get to gouge us, their loyal patrons? i think this is as bad as the gas problem. maybe the solution is to make fuel out of rice. i mean, hey, they make alcohol outta rice in japan–why not car fuel also. it’d probably smell a lot better coming outta the back of my SUV too. it might even smell like a fresh pot of steamed rice, or maybe sake. we could even collect the condensation from the exhaust pipe and drink it, if tasted like sake. can you imagine drinking your fuel and your exhaust. the possibilities are endless. we could even, then, use our bodily waste for the fuel after eating the captured exhaust. wow, peeing into the gas tank instead of spending $200 a week on gas! that’d be great. we could set up little portable privacy tents next to our car when we need to fill up, do our business, then be on our way. or even the gas stations could be converted to something like that. they could be more like rest stops than anything else. “pee stops.” think about it. this would surely end the war. viva la revolution!

  6. George X
    May 9, 2008

    What I don’t understand is why rice is still expensive when there are cyclones and tornados happening across the world. It seems that some sort of govt. subsidy is in order. People seem to be moving into harder times so it’s time for China and India and the other big developing countries to increase their rice exports if they’re going to participate in the global community. Diversification is probably the only way too.

    Perhaps we ought to be exploring bananas as a possible alternative. They’re white on the inside and yellow on the outside just like rice. Ironic? They’re grown in the same places too. I like them more anyways, plus they’re cheap. By that standard, Twinkies might work too. Twinkies are dirt cheap and last forever. I’d put some orange chicken over some steamed Twinkies any day! Who wouldn’t! This is making me hungry. It’s time we think outside the box from now on. The world has changed. The future is bananas and Twinkies instead of rice, just wait and see!!!

  7. Chapoonana
    May 22, 2008

    ok, let’s stop the riff raff. how long have humans been living on the moon? why is president bush a turtle? if you can’t answer these questions you will never solve the rice epidemic! 45 hours a day there is non-stop rice burning in most countries. this could be dramatically reduced if we our time spent in front of the television. now, if that’s not atrocious enough, think about all those kung-fu movies where white people play asian characters. did anyone ever ask them what the greatest cause of cancer trees is? unlikely. but, if we focus on the strength of weakness instead of k-mart and globalizations we’d have a answer to most of these and other not to mention more and less social situations of problem.

    i personally don’t care if rice is thrown on rich white people at their weddings. if they want to drink the furthest waters who are me and we to stop them? why is rice so damn expensive? that’s right. lower my prices and airfare will be less too, if only not. maybe i don’t know. i think the solution lies in new metals being manufactured without telephones. we’ve got to stop unnecessary talking so it doesnot interfear with produrction. I am disappointed.

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