A worldwide rice shortage has led the warehouse unit of Wal-Mart (WMT) to start rationing some types of it, reports Cotten Timberlake for Bloomberg. Where allowed by law, customers are going to be restricted to four bags a visit.
Shrinking supply and rising prices have led to hoarding. Rice is a food staple for half the world, including in China, Vietnam, India and Egypt, countries that have also started restricting sales. Thailand is also considering restricting shipments.
Some of Costco’s (COST) stores are putting limits on sales of flour, in addition to those of rice.
The good news is that both stores have extensive distribution systems, enabling them to redistribute supplies.
The rice shortage is just the latest in a long line of commodities that have become more scarce and expensive recently. Rice futures have risen 26% this month. Wheat, corn and soybeans are also at record prices, which has led to riots in Haiti and Egypt.