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Retailers ‘all but out of rice’, shipment expected next week

Saturday 17 June 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, National

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Retailers ‘all but out of rice’, shipment expected next week
The next shipment of rice should be arriving next week. Photo: Matthew Littlewood/23060824

The next shipment of rice should be arriving next week, providing relief to supply-constrained retailers.

Cook Islands Trading Corporation general manager Gaye Whitta confirmed that they were “all but out of rice” at its stores.

“There’s virtually none to sell,” Whitta said.

“We’re waiting for the shipment to arrive next week.”

Cook Islands News understands that there is particularly a shortage on the island of the popular SunRice-branded rice, which comes from Australia.

Prime Foods general manager Daniel Forsyth said they were also “completely out” of saleable rice.

“It must have run out sometime during the week, customers have been purchasing pasta and noodles for their starch content,” Forsyth said.

He said there were labour and supply issues from their Fijian supplier, which meant they missed out on “at least two and possibly three shipments” in the past couple of months.

“It’s very frustrating,” Forsyth said.

“But we’re dealing with a global shortage of an important product.”

Forsyth urged consumers to be patient.

“Shipping is a complete nightmare at the moment.”

Castaway Resort owner-operator Paul Ash said they were down to the last of their reserves.

“If the shipment arrives within the next week, we’ll be okay, if not we’ll have to change the menu,” Ash said.

“It’s always something that’s running out – I hear there’s a shortage of eggs at some retailers – that’s the nature of living in a place like Rarotonga where you’re at the end of the supply chain.”

Ash said he hoped such shortages would not occur during the upcoming high season for tourists.

“We can only hope for the best, because to run out of essentials then would be a bit embarrassing,” he said.

Tamarind House head chef James Miller said it was eagerly awaiting the next shipment of rice.

“We’re just trying to make things work as best we can. We’re using the variants we have in reserve,” he said.