Panic over rice prices hits home in California

The global rice panic has come to south Sacramento.

As word of food riots and export shutdowns in Asia reached California in recent weeks, worried shoppers have been buying up hundreds of pounds of rice at a time from the Asian supermarkets that line Stockton Boulevard, looking for security against rising prices.

"When people saw the price jump $2 or $3, they started buying like crazy – 10 bags, 15 bags," said Cu Van, a floor manager at Goldstar Supermarket. Each bag weighs 50 pounds.

In recent weeks, the retail price for a 50-pound sack of Thai jasmine rice, the prized variety served steamed in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine, has risen from roughly $20 to $40, straining budgets for families and restaurants.

The spike in the cost of Thai rice is one of the most extreme examples of a trend that is pushing up prices for all the major globally traded food commodities – rice, wheat, corn, soy and dairy products.

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