Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) residing in the United States are engaging in extensive rice shopping from India amidst a ban imposed by the Indian government on the export of non-Basmati rice varieties, as per reports. The ban has sparked concerns over potential rice shortages, leading to panic buying in North America, Europe, and West Asia. Indian grocery stores in these regions are witnessing long queues as a result.
The Times of India published a report detailing the situation, highlighting the significant demand among the Tamil community in particular. Major cities in Texas, Michigan, and New Jersey are witnessing overcrowded grocery stores, with multiple customers rushing to secure rice supplies.
According to the TOI report, the price of a 9 kg rice bag stands at $27. However, to manage the escalating demand, stores have imposed certain conditions on customers, restricting the sale to one rice bag per individual.
In the UK and Ireland, unlike the situation in the US, there was no observed rush at grocery stores for rice, as stated by a restaurant owner.
India, being a significant player in the global rice market with a 40% share of rice exports, implemented a ban on non-Basmati rice varieties’ export on July 20. This move was in response to multi-year high rice prices caused by unpredictable weather conditions threatening rice production.
During the second quarter, Indian exports of non-basmati white rice surged by 35% compared to the previous year due to heightened global demand.
Countries expected to be affected by the ban encompass various African nations, Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan, all of which are already grappling with elevated food-price inflation.
Some of the top purchasers of Indian non-basmati rice include Benin, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
In September of the previous year, India had imposed a ban on broken rice exports and levied a 20% duty on non-Basmati rice exports, with the exception of parboiled rice, due to concerns about reduced production estimates attributed to a decline in the area under paddy crop. However, the ban was lifted in November.
India also restricted wheat and sugar exports last year in an effort to stabilise prices.
With rice being a major staple in global food consumption, international rice prices have surged to decade-high levels due to various factors, including the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and the impacts of the El Niño weather phenomenon on production levels.
The recent imposition of a ban on rice exports by India has triggered a notable upswing in the cost of this essential food item, raising apprehension among Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) residing in the United States (US). Consequently, numerous NRIs are turning to the option of purchasing multiple rice bags from their nearby grocery outlets, foreseeing a potential scarcity and subsequent surge in prices.