Sam's Club Rations Imported Rice

In the past few weeks, we've been hearing reports of rice troubles from abroad, set off by spikes in prices and concerns about shortages.

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In the past few weeks, we've been hearing reports of rice troubles from abroad, set off by spikes in prices and concerns about shortages: India and Vietnam have put up export bans on rice; farmers in Asian countries are hoarding stocks; and the Philippine government is cracking down on everyone from distributors to fast food chains, hoping to avoid a nationwide panic.

But we're not feeling any of the fallout here in the United States, right? Think again. Citing "recent supply and demand trends," warehouse-retail giant Sam's Club announced today that it is restricting the number of 20-pound bags of imported rice customers can buy—to four bags at a time. The move follows similar actions by Costco Wholesale Corp., which imposed restrictions on purchases of rice at certain stores earlier this week.

Sam's Club is not restricting purchases of retail-size rice, however. Nor is Wal-Mart, Sam's Club's corporate owner, planning to impose any limits of its own.

—Kent Garber