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World Hunger - The Rice "Shortage"

There have been some interesting articles lately about the rice shortage. It seems generally in agreement that there isn't actually a shortage of rice, its a problem of how resources are allocated globally:

Grist.org says the priorities are screwed up, and the affluent eat what they want while the poor starve. I believe them.

Meanwhile, the New York Times says lack of free trade is keeping the rice away from the poor. There's probably something to that too.

I also heard a bit on the radio on how places like Costco and Sam's Club are "rationing" rice, but they're not doing so because they can't get enough rice, but because they want to keep prices down and profits up. They don't make money off the things they sell, they make money off memberships.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
Working at costco I can tell ya why we try to limit it, and it's not about the prices. We have local restaurants come in and buy up all of our rice before any of the other members can get any. They walk in the second the door opens and buy the whole pallet full. Then you and I and anyone else who comes in doesn't get any, so we currently (at least Eden Prairie) limit it to 5 bags/person. If we wanted the profits, we'd jack the price up and sell em all to the restaurants. :)
May. 1st, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
I guess I wasn't very clear . . .
I meant Costco could just buy more rice to have enough for everyone, but then they'd be losing too much money on it, unless they raised the price, which would make customers unhappy. So instead they have the limit, so everyone can get some at a low price. I didn't mean they were doing anything wrong, just that they give the impression of a rice shortage when that's not the real issue.
May. 3rd, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
There was also (from what I heard) some sort of rice plague in Asia, which destroyed a lot of crops. Not to say there won't be a worldwide problem with food in the next few years, but a lot of the "woe, no rice!" drama is due to an unexpected problem rather than a trend. Unless I'm misinformed, which could be the case...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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