List of food riots

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An illustration of the Women's March on Versailles, 5 October 1789

Food riots may occur when there is a shortage or unequal distribution of food. Causes can be food price rises, harvest failures, incompetent food storage, transport problems, food speculation, hoarding, poisoning of food, or attacks by pests. During the period 2007–2008, a rise in global food prices led to riots in various countries. A similar crisis recurred in 2010–2012.

Food riots

17th century

18th century

  • Boston Bread Riot – the last of a series of three riots by the poor of Boston, Massachusetts, between 1710 and 1713, in response to food shortages and high bread prices. The riot ended with minimal[clarification needed] casualties.
  • Flour War – occurred in 1775, this was an uprising caused by the excessive price of bread in France before the French Revolution. Early in the season for wheat harvesting and flour production, the government enacted fewer price controls than later in the year, leaving prices to the free market. This caused the price of flour to climb, and the working classes could not buy bread.
  • Réveillon riots occurred 26–29 April 1789[1] centered in the St. Antoine district of Paris where a factory which produced luxury wallpaper was owned by Jean-Baptiste Réveillon. The factory employed around 300 people. The riots were one of the first instances of violence during the French Revolution.
  • Women's March on Versailles was one of the earliest and most significant events of the French Revolution. The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who, on the morning of 5 October 1789, were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France.

19th century

An illustration of the Bread riots in Richmond, Virginia
  • Southern bread riots – events of civil unrest in the Confederacy, perpetrated mostly by women in March and April 1863. During these riots, which occurred in cities throughout the South, women and men violently invaded and looted various shops and stores.

20th century

  • Meat riots occurred in the Chilean capital Santiago in October 1905, and was a violent riot that originated from a demonstration against the tariffs applied to the cattle imports from Argentina.[2][3]
  • 1917 Potato riots - a food shortage during the WW I caused a food rebellion in the Dutch capital city Amsterdam in July 1917.
  • Rice riots of 1918 – a series of popular disturbances that erupted throughout Japan from July to September 1918, which brought about the collapse of the Terauchi Masatake administration. A precipitous rise in the price of rice caused extreme economic hardship, and rural protests spread to the towns and cities.
  • 1939 Nupi Lan Revolt of Manipur, India - Nupi Lan –which means women’s war in Manipuri- is one of the important movements in the history of Manipuri women. It sowed the new seeds of economic and political reforms for a new Manipur in the early 40’s. It was started in 1939 as an agitation by Manipuri women against the oppressive economic and administrative policies ruled by the Manipur Maharaja and the Political Agent –Mr. Gimson- of the British Government (1933–45) in Manipur, and later on, evolved into a movement for the constitutional and administrative reform in Manipur.[4]
  • Novocherkassk massacre was events tied to the labor strike of a locomotive building plant in Novocherkassk, a city in the Soviet Union, (now Russia). The events eventually culminated in riots of June 1–2, 1962 when reportedly 26 protesters were killed by the Soviet Army troops, and 87 were wounded. The riots were a direct result of shortages of food and provisions, as well as the poor working conditions in the factory.
  • 1970 Polish protests - sparked by a sudden increase of controlled prices of food.
  • Food riots in the Middle East – Several food riots occurred in the Middle East during the 20th century.
  • 1977 Egyptian bread riots affected most major cities in Egypt January 18–19, 1977. The riots were a spontaneous uprising by hundreds of thousands of lower-class people protesting World Bank and International Monetary Fund-mandated termination of state subsidies on basic foodstuffs. As many as 79 people were killed and over 550 injured in the protests,[5] which were only ended with the deployment of the army and the re-institution of the subsidies.

21st century

See also


  1. ^ "Redirect". Archived from the original on 9 March 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  2. ^ (in Spanish) Primeros movimientos sociales chileno (1890-1920). Memoria Chilena.
  3. ^ Benjamin S. 1997. Meat and Strength: The Moral Economy of a Chilean Food Riot. Cultural Anthropology, 12, pp. 234–268.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Egyptians hit Soviet reaction". Bangor Daily News. 24 January 1977. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  6. ^ Talley, Ian (18 July 2016). "Venezuela's Inflation Is Set to Top 1,600% Next Year". Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  7. ^ Brodzinsky, Sibylla (20 May 2016). "'We are like a bomb': food riots show Venezuela crisis has gone beyond politics". Retrieved 16 June 2017 – via The Guardian.
  8. ^ "'We want food!' Looting and riots rock Venezuela daily". 12 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2017 – via Reuters.
  9. ^ Casey, Nicholas (19 June 2016). "Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation". Retrieved 16 June 2017 – via
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