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After France, should Belgium fear a shortage of rice?

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After the shortages of sunflower oil and fuel, French supermarkets fear that in addition to mustard, rice will run out on the shelves. Should we also fear a shortage of rice in Belgium? Point.

According to France Info, rice prices in France have increased by 25% over the past year following poor harvests in Asia, especially in India and Pakistan. French supermarkets fear a shortage of basmati rice from next February. Originally from India and Pakistan, this fragrant long-grain rice represents 45% of rice consumption in France. “We have concerns for the supply of this rice”, warns Thierry Liévin, president of the Syndicate of the French rice mill (SRF) on the French channel BFM TV. “If there are no complete disruptions, there will at least be severe supply disruptions,” he warns.

Clashes in the Comoros

Some countries are even more affected by the shortage. Few months ago, in Comorosan archipelago of nearly 890,000 inhabitants located between Madagascar and the east coast of the African continent, the rice crisis has reached a climax and provoked clashes in the small poor nation, which imports most of its consumption from India and Pakistan. Also, according to Thierry Liévin, the countries affected could well “privilege their population” and restrict their exports. It indicates that in normal times of the 580 million tonnes of rice grown in the world, less than a tenth of production is exported.

According to the SRF, the shortage is likely to affect all varieties, but particularly basmati rice. In recent months, India and Pakistan, the main rice producers, have been hit by heat waves and heavy rains. At Pakistanof the dramatic floods linked to an extraordinary monsoon have engulfed large areas of agricultural land, ravaging staple crops such as rice, tomatoes and onions.

France also grows rice, in the Camargue, but its production is much lower than its total consumption. Added to this is thatit is not possible to produce basmati in France. “The vegetatives are quite long, it’s not the same environment. However, we make fragrant rice which may look like it, but the yield is really low, ”explains Thierry Liévin in the columns of Nice Matin.

And in Belgium?

In Belgium too, the price of rice has risen sharply. According to Test Achats, which is based on prices in Albert Heijn, Carrefour, Colruyt, Cora, Delhaize, Aldi and Lidl supermarkets, it soared 17% compared to the same period the previous year. Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, which takes into account the consumer price index, calculates that the price of rice rose by 9.53% from October 2021 to October 2022.

Contacted by Le Vif, the American group Mars Food, parent company of rice Ben’s Original (formerly Uncle Ben’s) claims he only meets no difficulties in obtaining rice or to deliver its Ben’s Original products. “Over the past 24 months, Mars Food has built resilience into its supply chain. We are confident in our multi-origin and multi-supplier strategy, and do not foresee any disruptions in our ability to source rice,” the group adds. The FPS Economy confirms that it has not received any information to this effect from the rice sector.

On the supermarket side, the shelves are always stocked. Delhaize does not expect shortages. At Carrefour, the shortage of rice is not felt, but the supermarket fears that this could be the case and tries to anticipate deficiencies. As for Aldi, he stresses that there is “no reason to worry”. “Currently, we expect sufficient availability of rice references on our shelves.” The supermarket is also not afraid of shortages for the future.

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