NEW YORK CITY: Some stores in the United States are implementing rice rationing measures in response to the global market disruption caused by India’s export restrictions.
The Indian government banned the export of non-basmati white rice overseas last month in a bid to bring down prices at home.
The decision led to panic buying by consumers across the US, and concerns among business owners about potential profit margin pressures.
India is responsible for around 40 per cent of global exports of rice, considered one of the world’s most versatile staples which can be cooked in many ways, including being boiled, fried and microwaved.
However, heavy monsoon rains, coupled with warmer, drier weather caused by the El Nino climate pattern, have destroyed its crops.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RICE
Mr KwangHo Lee, owner of Momoya in New York’s SoHo district, told CNA that the quality of the rice is very important for the Japanese establishment’s menu, so the supply disruption poses a challenge to maintaining its culinary standards.
“For a Japanese restaurant whose main menu is nigiri and rolls, rice is actually as important as fish quality. We pay a lot of attention when it comes to choosing what rice to use, what kind of recipe (and) what vinegar, so we continue to improve,” he said.
“We can never compromise on the quality of rice. So a rice crisis like this makes us very nervous, because you increase the risk, uncertainty,” he added.
The challenges for businesses, particularly restaurants, have been mounting over the past few years.
The pandemic’s disruption to food supply chains and prolonged closures for months at a time severely impacted the food industry.
Additionally, the war in Ukraine also led to soaring fertiliser and fuel prices, driving up overall food costs for firms.