Continuous Drought Seasons Force Australia to Import Rice

Shrinking supplies of locally grown rice may end up emptying grocery shelves soon in Australia. Continous drought seasons force Australia to import rice. 

Risk of Empty Retail Shelves

After three drought-savaged growing seasons, 90% of Australian rice growers have decided to skip planting rice this year. The entire output of rice has slumped more than 90% since the 2017-18 season. The government expects 57,000 tonnes this year which will be the lowest output since 2007-08. Rob Messina, the president of the Australian Rice growers association, reports that he has decided not to sow the crop on his property at the southern end of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Drought Forces Australia to Import Rice
Drought Forces Australia to Import Rice

Rob Gordon, chief executive of SunRice, said that supermarkets might go out of imported Basmati by the end of 2020. The company buys 98% of the domestic output and has a demand for about 1.4 million tonnes of rice every year. Further, he added that they are meeting the local demand from Thailand and Cambodia.

Despite Recent Rains no End to Drought

There had been a little talk of rain as news cycles spun faster on bushfires and coronavirus pandemic. Though it has rained regularly in many parts of Australia, it does not make up for the income lost in the drought years. Many of the pastoral areas in the north of SA and the far west of NSW had one or two falls, providing temporary relief. Several areas still wait for the rain. South Adelaide’s rural financial counsellors are busy providing bill support and other funds in these distressing times. 

Regional Players Sell Rice at Low Prices

SunRice, significant rice supplying firm in Australia, recorded an increase of 10% in revenue in the last financial year. However, it is facing a low-priced assault from Singapore-based Wilmar International. It scaled up its efforts with acquiring full ownership of the former Australian food business Goodman Fielder last year. It mainly sources rice from Vietnam. However, Gordon said that SunRice is ready for the challenge as it has benefits better quality product and a short supply chain in the region.

In all, though Australia’s agriculture industry has a tiny share of rice, the panic buying by consumers amid the coronavirus fears highlighted the shrinking supply. 

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