This paper analyses the impact of concessional sales of rice under public food distribution schemes on the open market demand and total consumption of rice in Sri Lanka from 1953 to 1989. The results show that, on average, 73 per cent of the concessional issues of rice under the non-targeted (universal) rationing scheme during 1953-1977 has served to replace a potential quantity that would have otherwise been demanded by consumers in the open market. The remaining 27 per cent has served as an addition to the total quantity of rice consumed in the country. Under the rationing and food stamp schemes targeted towards low income households, the annual average replacement of the quantity of open market rice was 51 percent during 1978-1989, while the addition to the total consumption of rice was 49 per cent. This suggests that the targeting of public rice distribution during 1978-1989 was fairly successful in maintaining the consumption of rice, particularly by low-income households.