Saturday, June 12, 2021

Rice flour shortage: price increase predicted in baby food and other products

An ingredients expert warns that a global shortage of rice flour is likely to lead to price increases in many of our everyday food staples.

Rice flour is mainly used as an ingredient in everyday food products, and for noodles. The severe shortage and soaring prices have been created by a ‘perfect storm’ of multiple factors.

Rice flour is one of the most important and commonly used ingredients featuring in baby food, desserts, soups, stews, coatings and batters; or as an important ingredient in gluten free products. Many of us eat rice flour every day without realising it.

Rice flour is usually derived from the broken rice grains that are fractured during the milling process. The broken grains are deemed inferior, and so, are separated from the whole grains and sold as ‘Broken Rice’.

The quality, cleanliness, taste and texture are the same as wholegrain rice but ‘brokens’ are sold at a lower premium around the world.

Ingredients expert, Jason Bull, Director, Eurostar Commodities warns that several crucial factors have combined to create a European shortage of rice flour.

“We are experiencing a severe shortage of rice flour, right now, in Europe,” he said.

“There are 50% less ‘brokens’ available due to problems in the Far East, namely; The Myanmar coup and the COVID-19 pandemic in India which have slashed production in half.

“On top of that we have a shortage of container and breakbulk vessel availability, increased freight costs as a result and taxation rates.

“We also have a new increased demand here in the UK from the hospitality and food service sectors as we reopen.

“New TCA regulations since Brexit also decree that rice flour brought into the UK has to be made from European origin ‘brokens’.”

He added: “To meet demand we are seeing manufacturers making rice flour by milling long grain rice at a ridiculous price which can only lead to massive price hikes on items like baby food that rely on rice flour as a key ingredient.”

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