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size, stock movement)
By Nicole Maestri
NEW YORK, April 23 Wal-Mart Stores Inc's
(WMT.N) Sam's Club warehouse division said on Wednesday it is
limiting sales of several types of rice, the latest sign that
fears of a rice shortage are rippling around the world.
Sam's Club, the No. 2 U.S. warehouse club operator, said it
is limiting sales of Jasmine, Basmati and long grain white rice
"due to recent supply and demand trends."
U.S. rice futures hitting an all-time high Wednesday on
worries about supply shortages.
On Tuesday, Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O), the largest
U.S. warehouse club operator, said it has seen increased demand
for items like rice and flour as customers, worried about
global food shortages and rising prices, stock up.
Sam's Club, the No. 2 U.S. warehouse club operator, is
limiting sales of the 20-pound (9 kg), bulk bags of rice to
four bags per customer per visit, and is working with suppliers
to ensure the products remain in stock.
Warehouse clubs cater to individual shoppers as well as
small businesses and restaurant owners looking to buy cheaper,
With prices for basic food items surging, customers have
been going to the clubs to try to save money on bulk sizes of
everything from pasta to cooking oil and rice.
Sam's Club said the large-sized bags of rice subject to the
limits are typically purchased by its restaurant owner or food
Sam's Club said is not limiting sales of flour or cooking
oil at this time. Costco said some of its stores have put
limits on sales of items such as rice and flour, but it was
trying to modify those restrictions to meet customer demand.
Costco Chief Executive James Sinegal told Reuters that he
believed the recent surge in demand was being driven by media
reports about rising global demand and shortages of basic food
items in some countries.
Food costs have soared worldwide, spurred by increased
demand in emerging markets like China and India; competition
with biofuels; high oil prices and market speculation.
The situation has sparked food riots in several African
countries, Indonesia, and Haiti. United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that higher food
prices could hurt global growth and security.
Rice prices have risen 68 percent since the start of 2008.
Trade bans on rice have been put in place by India, the
world's second largest exporter in 2007, and Vietnam, the third
biggest, in hopes of cooling domestic prices. Rice is a staple
in most of Asia.
On Tuesday, Tim Johnson, president-CEO of California Rice
Commission, which represents growers and millers of rice in the
state, said: "Bottom line, there is no rice shortage in the
United States. We have supplies."
Wal-Mart shares were up 0.4 percent to $56.80 in afternoon
trading, while Costco shares rose 1.7 percent to $69.26.
(Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and