Indian Americans not buying Basmati rice

July 7th, 2008 - 4:11 pm ICT by ANI  

By Smita Prakash
Washington, July 7 (ANI): Basamati rice is the preferred choice of Indians everywhere in the world.
In the US, Indian grocery stores prominently display at least 10 to 15 varieties of basmati rice, all imported from India and Pakistan. Most Indians buy basmati rice in bulk, 15 to 20 kilos in sacks made of jute or plastic.
But the trend is changing. Indian Americans are switching to non-basmati brands to cut cost, buying just two kilo basmati rice packs for special occasions like pujas or parties. In times of recession, drastic cuts in grocery bills is called for says Kaval Shah of Fredrick Maryland. He works as a real estate agent. Once he held only one job but has had to take a huge pay cut ever since the mortgage crisis hit the U.S.
He has switched to buying non-basmati rice and says he saves about 15 dollars a month. Not a huge amount but every dollar counts. Kaval came to the US in the ”70s. He says he never got to eat basmati rice then because they were not available in most grocery stores. The few Indian restaurants like the Tandoor in Georgetown in downtown DC, that offered basmati rice in their menu charged seven dollars for a basmati biryani. Too much for an Indian student surviving on grant. The grocer at Patel Brother in Gaithersburg Maryland says he doesn”t expect food prices to come down. His profit margins are down by 50 percent in the past two months. The surge in freign charges has affected the competitiveness of Indian exports. American importers are preferring to source from closer production points to save on ocean freight costs.
Most food items are sourced from Canada, Mexico and other Latin American countries. Export restrictions in India has also impacted on prices of groceries here. Indian has banned exports of pulses, edible oil and non-basmati rice. Increasing transportation cost for raw materials and for finished goods is putting an additional pressure on the exporters.
In 2007-08, India’’s export clocked at 155.5 billion dollars, against the target of 160 billion dollars. Exports in April 2008-09 were valued at 14.4 billion dollars but it may not be able to meet its targets this year. (ANI)

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