As the effects of COVID-19 are being felt in the U.S. and around the world, consumers are rushing to stockpile groceries and household supplies in fear of being quarantined or isolated in their homes for weeks. This has led to a run on household cleaning products, paper products, and many canned and dried goods, including rice.
Social media platforms are full of pictures of empty store shelves, fueling rumors of shortages, and potentially fueling additional panic and hoarding.
USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward issued the following statement:
"U.S. consumers need not be concerned about a shortage of U.S.-grown rice. There is no shortage. Rice is a nutritious and inexpensive staple that when kept under the right conditions can last almost indefinitely, so it makes sense consumers would want an ample supply on hand during this crisis.
"If you see depleted rice shelves in your local grocery store, it is not a supply problem, it is a signifier of changing logistics in the retail market. For a few years now, stores that used to keep one month or more of products on hand have largely shifted to a 'just-in-time' model to improve their efficiency. When there is a surge in consumer interest for a particular product, supplies on hand may be depleted, but will be quickly replenished. This is the case for U.S.-grown rice.
"Not only are shipments of sustainably-grown U.S. rice on the way to stores now, but this is also the time of year when our thousands of family farmers are out in the fields or preparing to be, planting the next crop to ensure our supply of delicious, safe rice never runs out."