BANGKOK (Reuters) - Rice prices in Thailand, the world's top exporter, surged to $1,000 a tonne on Thursday, feeding concerns about food security as far as the United States after export curbs by governments worldwide.
The surging price of food and fuel has sparked riots in Africa and Haiti and raised fears that millions of the world's poor will struggle to feed themselves. Some analysts, however, attribute much of the surge to panic buying by both consumers and governments rather than a dire shortage of supply.
Now Sam's Club has joined Costco, in limiting purchases of rice.
The chart below shows clearly how much the price of rice has increased since the beginning of the year. Rising from approximately $300 a ton to $1000 a ton, since the beginning of 2008.
Sam's Club, a unit of retail giant Wal-Mart, said on Wednesday it was capping sales of 20-pound (9 kg) bulk bags of rice at four bags per customer per visit to prevent hoarding.
The previous day, rival Costco Wholesale Corp said it had seen increased demand for items such as rice and flour as customers, worried about global food shortages, stocked up.
"Everywhere you see, there is some story about food shortages and hoarding and tightness of supplies," said Neauman Coleman, an analyst and rice broker in Brinkley, Arkansas.