Food Panics Hit The U.S.

Is this for real?
Food-related protests have been occurring worldwide, and in the U.S. now major discounters are seeing runs on products, particularly rice, as both Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operated discounter, and Costco Wholesale Corp. have seen shelves cleaned out of rice as consumers worry about higher prices. “It is just unreal what can happen when we get fear being spread as it is now, and when the general populace goes out and starts doing idiotic things like lining up at the Sam’s Club and the Costco and not buying one bag but buying 10 bags just because they might run out,” says Neauman Coleman, introducing broker at Neauman Coleman & Co. in Brinkley, Ark.

Sam’s Club has decided to put limits (or rations, if you will) on the amount of 20-pound bags customers can purchase every week, and Costco earlier this week said it was considering such limits as well, which in a way is just as panicky a response. Even though July rough rice futures closed up 62 cents to $24.82 per hundredweight on the Chicago Board of Trade, Mr. Coleman says inventory figures show that the U.S. still has plenty of rice (this country exports a good deal of its rice), so the bubble-nature of this grain will recede over time. “It’s fear and panic and pandemonium,” he says.

This must be restaurants, right? Are average Americans really so tuned in to the news of food shortages in the rest of the world that they are panicking that they might run out of rice? Seems unlikely to me. Why is this happening?


Update: I guess I'm wrong. Americans really are worried about food prices. This seems like a huge deal to me. When's the last time that happened?

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