Rice is a staple food in many cultures. It holds great significance and is a symbol of sustenance and security. It is no surprise that people stock up on this grain during times of uncertainty or crisis.
In recent years, months, and days, the act of hoarding rice has gained attention, raising questions about the motives of WHY PEOPLE DO THIS! Let’s talk about this and start understanding rice hoarding.
Just like we saw toilet paper hoarding during the pandemic a few years ago, we are starting to see rice hoarding. If you’re struggling to find rice, here are some reasons why you are seeing this movement. Colander to Rinse Rice
What’s happening in 2023 with rice hoarding?
According to Business Today “India’s announcement of a ban on the export of non-basmati rice, panic buying of rice was witnessed at departmental stores across the US.” Now we are seeing major price hikes and rice hoarding.
Although the US consumes a fair amount of rice from the global marketplace, we aren’t a country that produces much rice. We are at the mercy of the 10 countries that grow over 85% of global rice production, including China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other Asian countries. Only Brazil of the western hemisphere is part of that 10-country group.
USA’s Relationship With Other Countries
It’s hard to believe, but within the past few years, China produced over 148 million metric tons of rice with India at over 104 tons of milled rice. The US’s relationship with these two countries, particularly China, has been on somewhat shaky ground, making us very susceptible to possible a rice shortage situation and paying a market price higher than other countries.
Why did India ban rice export to the USA?
Since the announcement of the ban, rice prices here in the US have seen a significant increase. I did some checking today and the 20-pound rice bags I paid $10 dollars for at retail prices last year are now priced at over $50.00.
You and I have no idea who the rice traders are and who sets the global food prices for rice at any given time, but you can make the logical assumption that there are some unscrupulous traders out there trying to take advantage of scare tactics to move tons of rice right now.
The Fear of Scarcity
One of the main reasons people hoard rice is rooted in the fear of scarcity. Throughout history, food shortages and famines have plagued societies, leaving an indelible mark on collective memory. These experiences have instilled a deep-seated fear of running out of food, especially a staple like rice that provides sustenance and nourishment to millions of people.
As a result, individuals feel the compulsion to stockpile rice, and rice hoarders become more prevalent as a precautionary measure, to ensure their survival during uncertain times.
Back in April of 2023 USA Today had an article in which they announced rice shortage predictions this year as one of the “biggest shortages in decades” based on reports from industry analysts. The analysis is based on a number of factors, including devastating flash floods from typhoons in China and Pakistan during 2022 which led to poor harvests and increased prices at the start of the year.
Climate Changes Affect Rice Production and Pricing
These price increases were on top of much higher prices already in effect due to supply chain issues and droughts in many countries during the pandemic period. Dry spells throughout Asia aren’t uncommon and cause hoarding of agricultural products of all kinds in many cultures.
The likelihood of below-normal rainfall puts fear in people and markets, and prolonged dry seasons in some areas seem to be the trend. But adding the challenges of climate change and political unrest just adds to the shortages and price pressures we’re seeing. Climate issues and changing growing seasons also affects the production of crops, a lower crop harvest, and a reduction in good quality rice.
Although the US doesn’t produce a large percentage of global rice output, the year-over-year rice production reductions in high rice growing areas like Arkansas, the Mississippi Delta, the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, and California’s Sacramento Valley, make for higher prices here too.
Sense of Security
Hoarding rice can provide individuals with a sense of security and control in an unpredictable world much like we’ve seen in recent times with corn hoarding in many countries and cultures. The act of accumulating a large supply of rice creates a tangible buffer against potential crises or emergencies.
By having an ample reserve of this essential commodity, people believe they can protect themselves and their families from hunger and deprivation. This psychological security blanket offers reassurance and peace of mind, temporarily.
In many cultures, rice carries deep cultural and symbolic meaning, often associated with prosperity, abundance, and good fortune. Hoarding rice can be driven by the desire to uphold cultural traditions and maintain a connection to one’s heritage. The act of storing rice becomes a way to preserve cultural identity and ensure customs and cultural trends will continue.
The act of hoarding rice can also provide individuals with psychological comfort. During times of stress or uncertainty, having an abundance of rice can serve as a source of emotional solace. The feeling of being prepared and self-reliant boosts confidence and reduces anxiety. Hoarding rice becomes a coping mechanism, providing individuals with a sense of control over their environment.
Fear of Price Inflation
Another factor contributing to rice hoarding is the fear of price inflation. When news of potential disruptions in the supply chain or rising prices circulate, individuals may rush to stock up on rice to avoid paying exorbitant prices in the future. This behavior is driven by the anticipation of increased demand and limited availability.
Social Influence and Panic Buying
Hoarding rice is often influenced by social dynamics and the collective behavior of others. When individuals witness others engaging in panic buying or hoarding, it can trigger a sense of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out). The fear of not having enough rice drives individuals to follow suit and join the hoarding trend. Social media platforms and news reports can trigger this behavior, it creates a domino effect that spreads fast throughout the world.
What is the rice used for?
- Food– Rice is primarily used as a staple food in many cultures. It serves as a base for various dishes, including stir-fries, rice bowls, curries, and sushi.
- Brewing and Distilling – Broken rice is often used in brewing and distilling processes to create beverages such as rice wine and sake.
- Flour and Starch Production – Rice can be milled into rice flour, which is used in baking, gluten-free recipes, and as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies.
- Animal Feed – Rice by-products, such as rice bran and broken rice, are commonly used as feed for livestock and poultry.
- Cosmetics and Skincare – Rice-based products, such as rice water and rice bran oil, are used in skincare routines. Rice water is believed to have moisturizing and brightening effects on the skin, while rice bran oil is used in cosmetics for its hydrating benefits.
- Household Uses – Rice can be used around the house for various purposes, like absorbing moisture (for those of us who drop our phones in water often).
My Favorite Rice Dishes
The act of hoarding rice is driven by a combination of factors. The fear of scarcity, the desire for security, cultural significance, and the need for comfort all make people participate in this behavior. For all of us, taking the time for understanding the motivations behind rice hoarding can help us empathize with those who do it, but also help us to understand why we shouldn’t necessarily join. May God Bless this World, Linda
Copyright Images: Rice Raw Portion Depositphotos_76949721_S, Rice the Staple of Asians Depositphotos_130439252_S