As a college student, rice is a staple food. I recently bought a rice cooker, so this situation is ironic, but we pivot. Across the world, the rice industry has seen an overall drop in production. The unfortunate consequence is the increase in price for consumers. According to Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research, the global rice market is on target to produce 8.7 million tonnes of rice, which is the lowest production in 20 years. We’ve seen shortages in eggs and even sriracha this year. However, with rice being such a staple food, many cultures and communities will feel this shortage's impact. 

How did the rice shortage happen?

There is not one single cause of the shortage, but rather a pull of several, ultimately creating a global issue. For context, India and China are the two largest producers of rice in the world. In September 2022, India hoped to control the price of domestic rice and its availability within the country. They taxed exports of non-basmati rice by 20% and banned the exportation of broken rice. Broken rice is called ‘broken’ because during the milling process, the grain is fractured and then considered damaged. It has the same composition as white rice but smaller. It’s just as nutritious as normal, not broken rice, but when cooked produces a different texture.

This year, China, the second leader in the rice industry, experienced severe drought and heat, which damaged a significant amount of this year’s harvest. Another factor is the war between Russia and Ukraine. There is already a strain on supplies that involve wheat, barley, corn, and cooking oil because these countries are major exporters. Analysts have identified that rice has also been impacted.

Finally, Pakistan, one of the top ten producers of rice, has experienced record-breaking monsoons. Forbes estimated that $40 billion of damage devastated South Asia. Thousands of lives were lost. Financially, the country is still recovering due to the flooding in large strips of the country, damaging rice yields..

What do I do to prepare for the rice shortage?

Good news, the rice shortage is expected to be short-lived, lasting until 2024. So there is no need to stockpile rice. With the shortage ending, analysts also expect a 10% price reduction. However, the shortage relies heavily on the growing conditions of India and China. So in the meantime, there are many rice alternatives to try.

Rice alternatives

Cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice not only looks similar to white rice but is low in carbohydrates and packed with vitamins and minerals.


Quinoa has been touted as a rice replacer for those seeking more protein, fiber, and/or gluten-free alternatives to rice. It has a different texture but has a rich flavor profile.

Orzo or pastina

Orzo, to this day, confuses me. To me, orzo is if pasta and rice had a baby. It’s not actually rice, but a type of pasta. It has the look of rice but the taste of pasta. Some of my favorite orzo recipes are from @halfbakedharvest, but orzo pairs nicely with most foods as a side.