The price of rice, meat and other staples have risen sharply in Puerto Ricos last year, driving up prices to more than $1,400 a kilo in some markets, according to data from the island’s central bank.
The price for pork rose more than 30 percent to more nearly $3,000 per kilo, a sign of growing competition among food companies.
But the rice market has been especially tough.
The island’s population of about 6.5 million has less than 6,000 restaurants and more than 700 rice-processing plants, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rice industry has struggled to compete with imports and the influx of U.N. aid and tourists.
The country’s rice imports account for nearly half of the country’s production, the USDA reported in November.
But rice prices have soared because the government has not invested in rice-saving measures and the country does not have sufficient storage capacity.
Puerto Rico’s rice consumption rose nearly 50 percent last year.
The government is hoping to boost imports to 50 percent of production by 2018, and hopes to reduce its rice-consuming to about 12 percent.
Rice is the islands most important food product and the main ingredient in its ubiquitous rice cake, rice bread and many other dishes.
The United States Department of Agriculture has been providing rice aid to Puerto Rico since September, and the government plans to use that money to invest in rice production.
The U.P. has already set aside $1 billion to invest.
The USDA data showed that rice sales in Puerto Rican markets increased 2.5 percent last month, compared with a 1.8 percent increase in December.
But rice prices continue to rise, as do food and beverage prices.
The average price of a kilogram of rice in Puerto Rica has risen about 15 percent since the start of the year, to about $1.90 per kilogram.
Rice imports account on average for about a third of the island s rice production, according U. S. Census data.
U.S.-based rice-processor maker Alcoa Corp., which has a stake in the Alcoac group, said in a statement that the increase in rice prices was due to the increase of demand for rice in the U .
The company said its price increase was a result of the U S. government’s commitment to support the rice industry, especially rice farmers.
“Our market share is not as high as it used to be, but we will continue to aggressively expand our business to satisfy the increasing demand for our products,” Alcoas spokesman David Mott said in an e-mail.