SEATTLE -- Have you tried buying a bag of rice lately? A worldwide shortage is putting the grain in short supply in stores.
At Belltown's Sushi Wave, daily business relies on one thing: rice.
"A lot of our menu just has rice in everything," said Dona Kim. "There's a lot of people that just come in to order, to go, just a bowl of rice."
But now, the challenge is finding rice. A worldwide supply crunch has pushed prices up
and caused panic for restaurants and retailers. It's just starting to be felt in the Northwest.
"Because of the rice thing, we went a bought enough supply to last us as long as this shortage is going on," Kim said.
Wholesalers and warehouses simply aren't getting the shipments they're used to. We went to a Tukwila Costco and found only a handful of bags where you'd expect to see stockpiles several rows high. Costco did not return a call for comment, but in a statement, Chief Executive James Sinegal says "If we run out, we're usually back in stock the next day."
At Saar's Market, the rice shortage is real. Customers are being limited to one bag per week because the warehouse Saar's relies on for rice is also in short supply --- some 25 percent of normal.
"There are a number of exporting countries that, supplies are so short they've either stopped or really slowed down their exporting," said Seasia's Michael Moriguchi. "Which also obviously creates a higher price."
Some believe the cause is from unpredictable weather, rising fuel costs, and growing demand from countries like China and India.
Moriguchi expects most retailers will continue to have rice on their shelves, you'll just see less of it, and chances are you'll pay a lot more for it.