Sushi rice prices set to explode

By James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Low stocks and shipping issues could see a shortage of sushi rice in the UK
Low stocks and shipping issues could see a shortage of sushi rice in the UK

Related tags: Ingredients, Supply chain

The UK is set to experience a significant increase in the price of sushi rice, according to ingredients firm Eurostar Commodities.

Raw material price for the commodity has increased by about 35% due to short supply and very high demand, on the back of increasing freight costs since 2020 – up 19%.

Eurostar warned that there may not be enough rice produced globally this harvest to satisfy 100% of demand this year (2021–2022), creating a potential shortage in the market.

While most of the sushi rice consumed in the UK comes from paddy fields in Northern Italy, Europe does not grow enough to fulfil demand. As a result, supplies are topped up with rice from the rest of the world.

Freight shortfalls

However, shortfalls in freight and logical issues mean this rice is not getting through.

Compared with one year ago it is now more expensive to transport the product from the Far East than it is to produce it.

Energy, transport and packaging costs have all increased as well as surcharges being imposed on freight due to ‘UK congestion’ at ports. Lack of drivers is also affecting availability and increasing delays. 

Commenting on the shortages, Eurostar director Jason Bull said the entire industry was clamouring to buy the rice that they need, driving the price up further.

Continuing cycle

“This cycle is going to continue into spring 2022 increasing prices even further,”​ he added. “The prediction is that this will affect the price of products for consumers especially consumption of sushi in restaurants and supermarkets.

“I have heard industry people describing it even though we are at the beginning of the new harvest ‘the prices are like we are at the end.’”

By spring, the forecast is that there will be no paddy rice left in the entire global market. There will be 13% less rice available in total volume than the previous year, but global demand is soaring. This includes round grain and long grain and extends into the various cereal processing industries that are dependent on rice as a key ingredient.

Meanwhile, food and drink manufacturers are facing major challenges as orders for some have collapsed in the wake of the Omicron variant​ and rising Covid cases.

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