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Mexico: A rice market like no other

Rice makes inroads in a corn and bean diet society.

By Milo Hamilton
Market Advisor. USRPA
President, FirstGrain, Inc.
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In February of 2010 every newspaper in Mexico made it a front page story with the alarming announcement that the country’s child obesity rate had become the highest in the world.

Emergency meetings were being conducted in Mexico City with the Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture and a host of other government offices and private sector representatives in an effort to confront the growing problems related to human health. Every newspaper article mentioned salt, fat, sugar and cholesterol in the form of snack foods and soft drinks as the culprits that had become a daily habit in the lives of young consumers.

The U.S. Rice Producers Association saw this as an opportunity for rice among the Mexican population since there is no sodium or cholesterol in rice and rice consumers eat less saturated fat and higher amounts of essential vitamins. Research conducted in recent years indicates that rice consumers eat less sugar and saturated fat and are less likely to develop heart disease and type II diabetes. Rice consumers have a lower risk of high blood pressure and obesity. In meetings with the Foreign Agricultural Service and the USA Rice Federation, the U.S. Rice Producers Asso-ciation addressed the issue and encouraged the input of a new nutritional angle in order to seize an opportunity to increase the consumption of rice in Mexico. There is no country in the Western Hemisphere that has such a low consumption rate (although it has been growing for years) yet a population of 110 million people. Rice should play a more active role in the diet of the Mexican family.

National Media Attention
In September of 2010, thanks to a coordinated effort between the Mexican Rice Council and the U.S. Rice Producers Asso-ciation, the first ever Dia Nacional del Arroz (National Rice Day) was conducted in Mexico City with the support of Francisco Mayorga Castaneda, Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture. This marked the first time such an event was held and, more importantly, the first time rice received national media attention in a society raised principally on a corn and bean diet.

Secretary Mayorga declared rice healthy, nutritional and affordable and encouraged the Mexican consumers to make rice a more frequent dish on the family menu while explaining the numerous health benefits and pointing out the low cost for the family budget. The event brought national attention as the Secretary drove home points of developing a new culture of healthy eating in Mexico.

The event, sponsored by the U.S. Rice Producers Association, will now become an annual affair in coordination with the Mexican Rice Council, National Rice Producers of Mexico with support from the various Mexican government agencies.

Mexico is the number one market for U.S. rice.

To learn more about USRPA, please visit www.usriceproducers.com.

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