Restaurants tackle high price of rice

Rice that has not yet been milled is shown while drying in a warehouse in Thailand.

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Scott Jagow: Another commodity that keeps going up is rice. It's three times as expensive as it was a year ago. In this country, some stores are limiting the amount of rice people can buy. And the price hike is no fun for the restaurant business either. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports from New York.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: Restaurant owners in Manhattan's Little India district are swallowing a big increase in the cost of a 50-pound bag of Basmati rice. Nitin Vyas is owner and manager of Madras Mahal.

Nitin Vyas: We used to get $16, $18, Now, we are paying almost like $36, $38.

Still, he hasn't changed his prices.

Vyas: The reason is that there are a lot of the competition. To stay into the market and to stay into the business and to satisfy our customers, we haven't increased the price.

But David Selig has reached the tipping point. He owns four restaurants called Rice. He's about to introduce a 25 percent surcharge for a side of rice.

David Selig: This may be long term. This may end up having to be a surcharge that becomes permanent.

He says it wasn't an easy decision.

Selig: People are very price sensitive, and our customers are particularly so. So, it's very uncomfortable having to rise as much as we need to.

Still with rice at record highs, it's a choice Selig can live with.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

About the author

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women in the workplace called The Broad Experience.

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