Why rice could be the next food in short supply

STORY: Soaring food prices could be set to rise even higher, thanks to rice.

Top suppliers in Asia have been hit by bad weather, which could reduce output.

It would mark a sharp change for the world's most important food staple.

Rice has so far avoided the trend towards rising food prices due to big crops and large inventories at exporters over the past two years.

In contrast, another major food staple - grains - has become more costly due to the war in Ukraine.

But now analysts fear weather in exporting countries in Asia will likely change the price of rice.

The world's top exporter, India, has been hit by patchy rains, while China has seen a heatwave and Bangladesh has gone through floods.

India has seen a 13% drop in rice planting this year.

That could see production down by 10 million tonnes - or 8% from last year.

One trader has warned that India's government is sensitive about prices, and even a small rise could lead it to impose export curbs.

China is the world's biggest rice consumer and importer.

But it too has seen yield losses from extreme heat in growing areas.

That could see it increase imports to record levels, just when supplies already looked tight.