Seems like a great way to get free advertising. I've already heard this story on Radio and TV multiple times. Read the rest HERE.
The two biggest U.S. warehouse retail chains are limiting how much rice customers can buy because of what Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., called on Wednesday "recent supply and demand trends."
The broader chain of Wal-Mart stores has no plans to limit food purchases, however.
The move comes as U.S. rice futures hit a record high amid global food inflation, although one rice expert said the warehouse chains may be reacting less to any shortages than to stockpiling by restaurants and small stores.
Sam's Club followed Seattle-based Costco Wholesale Corp., which put limits in at least some stores on bulk rice purchases.
Sam's Club declined to say if this is first time it has restricted sales of bulk foods. The limits affect 20-pound bags, not retail-sized portions. Costco President and CEO Jim Sinegal declined to discuss the issue Wednesday with an AP reporter.
Sam's Club said it will limit customers to four bags at a time of imported jasmine, basmati and long grain white rice.
The warehouse chain caters heavily to small businesses, including restaurants. Sam's Club spokeswoman Kristy Reed said she could not comment on whether the problem was caused by short supplies or by customers stocking up in anticipation of higher prices.
USA Rice Federation spokesman David Coia said there is no rice shortage in the United States.
"It's possible that small restaurants and bodega-type neighborhood stores may be purchasing rice in larger quantities than they do typically to avoid higher prices," Coia said about the warehouse chain restrictions.
A smaller chain, Natick, Mass.-based BJ's Wholesale Club Inc., said it is not imposing limits for now.
And so it goes.