Rice suppliers will keep 2 scoops on isle plates
A few Hawaii stores are limiting bulk purchases of rice.
In Hawaii, just a hint of a shortage of a local staple like rice can provoke panic and propel consumers to snatch up supplies. While countries in Asia and elsewhere are experiencing shortages and prices of the grain have doubled during the past three months, U.S. supplies are nowhere near a crisis. There is no reason for island consumers to buy more than usual.
A few big box stores here and on the mainland are limiting bulk purchases, which has caused some concern because it is not unusual for Hawaii families to buy 20-pound bags. However, restrictions are mostly on specialty varieties, such as jasmine and basmati, and appear to be the stores' hedge against resale enterprises hoping for larger profit margins down the line. Indeed, investors are buying up rice futures, which hit record highs this week, betting that demand will fatten their wallets.
Political strife, oil prices and a push for biofuels, among other factors, are putting great pressure on global food supplies, but for rice, lower harvests due to drought and disease, and speculators are the main forces in play in Asian and African regions. In the United States, supplies have remained steady during the past seven years and demand low enough for exporting half of the domestic production.
Even so, Hawaii's acute dependence on the flow of food and other necessities from offshore magnifies any whisper of scarcity. For the time being, however, the usual two scoops don't appear to be threatened.
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