Australia is facing a rice shortage with the country predicted to run out of the domestically-grown product by Christmas.
SunRice chief executive Rob Gordon warned families would soon be forced to eat rice imported from Vietnam as local supplies continued to dwindle.
‘We are going to run out of Australian rice by Christmas,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
Australia is facing a rice shortage with the country predicted to run out of the homegrown food staple by Christmas (pictured, COVID-19 panic buyers stripped supermarket shelves in March)
SunRice, the country’s biggest rice supplier, has lost more than $400 million in exports (pictured, SunRice factory at Leeton, in New South Wales’ Riverina region)
‘Our supply chains including Vietnam are a hedge against Australian shortages so we will still have rice products on the shelves but it will not be Australian rice.’
Low rainfall, dry weather and COVID-19 panic buying have all been linked to the diminishing stock.
SunRice, the country’s biggest rice supplier, has lost more than $400million in exports.
The company has also been forced to cut its 600 strong workforce by one third in the New South Wales Riverina region – one of the biggest rice producing parts of the country.
The cutbacks come as the country records a poor harvest season for rice.
Low rainfall and dry conditions have led harvesting figures to dip by more than 90 per cent since 2017.
Last year, SunRice produced its second lowest rice crop.
Only 54,000 tonnes of rice was harvested – compared to its regular 800,000 tonnes.
Farmers have also blamed poor water allocation management on poor yields.
Growers say they have received little to no access to irrigated water.
‘Our rice industry, 98 per cent of which is grown in southern NSW, is at risk of collapse with the last two years of zero water allocations,’ NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said.
‘While NSW was suffering through the worst drought on record, and our communities were living on zero general security allocations, South Australia was running the Lower Lakes at a minor flood level and released over 600,000 megalitres out over the barrages into the Southern Ocean.
COVID-19 panic buying has been regarded as the breaking point for the rice industry.
Shoppers stripped supermarket shelves bare of rice products, toilet paper and pasta in March.
Around the same time, experts sounded the alarm the frenzied shopping would only add further strain to the rice industry.
SunRice warned the demand was exceeding ‘supply capability’.
The frenzied shopping forced prime minister Scott Morrison to phone the Vietnam president.
He reportedly made the call to ensure an Australian-owned factory in the country would be able to continue to export its rice to Australia despite closed borders.
SunRice has also been forced to cut its 600 strong workforce by one third in New South Wale’s Riverina region – one of the biggest rice producing parts of the country (stock image)