Price of rice on the rise

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Gas and diesel prices are starting to spike what you're paying for what had been known as the cheap fill.

Rice is the staple that feeds much of the world, but Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd reports a number of factors are driving up the price.

Part of it is that rice isn't the only grain in pain. Drought's damaged a lot of the wheat crop. More farmers are turning their corn into ethanol fuel rather than food. Throw in more of us eating more rice anyway--something's gotta give somewhere.

At the Cumberland Strip's Hibachi Factory, the thrill is on the grill, but rice is as critical as spice.

"In fact, everything we serve aside from our side items actually has the rice in it," said Jason Piho from the Hibachi factory.

Twenty to 30, 50 pounds bags of it a week, but the price

"Has gone up throughout the year, slowly in increments because of the increase in the economy and inflation and everything," Piho said.

Twenty-five percent higher in the past month, but so much higher on the West Coast some restaurants and grocers are hoarding, and Costco and Sams are rationing.

"This is the United States, that's kind of odd-we haven't had rations in a very long time, right?" shopper Suzanne Greenlee said.

Blount Countian Suzanne Greenlee hasn't followed rice prices.

"I just know, overall, the same items we're buying, the price has gone up--the bill is much higher," Greenlee said.

Staples will vary, store to store, and week to week, but our checks and the Chamber of Commerce show huge spikes for flour and milk compared to this time time last year. Butter and eggs, each up more than a third.

"It's just the demand and the increase in the cost of fuel," Piho said.

"What do you think's doing it? Gas, cause's everything goes up when the gas goes up," Greenlee said.

Suzanne doubts this'll change how she drives, or eats, and Hibachi Factory's not getting steamed or fried about it yet.

"We're just staying steady with it--and raise prices to pass on down the increase in rice," Piho said.

Hibachi's rice supplier expects a hundred pound bag to go up another two bucks before the end of the week. How long it'll stay there, or whether it'll go higher -- he can't say, but the head of Thailand's Rice Exporters Association says they could hold firm the rest of the year thanks to Thailand's weak crop and our weaker dollar.


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