China, the largest rice producer in
the world, is also the largest rice
consumer. With its 1.3 billion
people, China has 20 percent of
the world’s population but just seven percent
of the arable land and seven percent of
the water resources.
China is by far the largest food market in
the world and the most important market
for U.S. agriculture having moved past
Canada in 2010 to become the No.1 export
destination for U.S. agricultural products,
reaching a value of $17.8 billion in 2010.
According to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural
Service, China’s food demand continues
to outpace its domestic production, creating
a market opportunity for exporting
countries such as the United States.
Milo Hamilton, a Senior Economist at
Firstgrain, Inc. believes China has some
difficulties. In particular, water, urbanization,
climate, pollution and a desire by its
middle class for safe rice free of Cadmium
and other objectionable materials.
Market Research In China
Since 2005, the US Rice Producers
Association has worked hard to develop
relationships and conduct market research
in China in order to understand the possibility
of one day selling U.S. rice to this
expanding market. Thanks to funding from
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service
(FAS) and a partnership with the Animal &
Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS),
the reality of accessing a market is moving
forward in a positive manner.
After conducting supermarket tastings
and surveys, it became obvious that the
Chinese people like quality U.S. rice and
are willing to pay a premium price if the
product is available. Taste, appearance,
quality, safety and nutrition are as equally
important to the Chinese high-end consumer
The only thing keeping the United States
out of the market is lack of phytosanitary
protocols between the two countries for the
shipment of rice. Working with APHIS and
research specialists in 2009, a pest risk
analysis (PRA) was conducted at the
request of the Chinese government.
Chinese Officials/Rice Buyers Visit U.S.
Upon completion of the analysis, the
USRPA was awarded an Emerging Market
Program grant from the FAS for a reverse
trade mission to bring Chinese AQSIQ
officials and importers to the United States.
In July of 2011, the Chinese accepted an
invitation to tour the U.S. rice farms and
mills to complete the PRA. The officials
travelled to farms and mills in California,
Arkansas and Louisiana. The trip was a
success, and the Chinese team got all their
The first Chinese rice buyers to ever
visit the United States arrived in November
2011 to tour mills and farms to educate
themselves about U.S. rice. These buyers
toured all six rice-producing states on their
11-day trip, visiting 10 rice mills, exporters
and port facilities. The buyers stressed
quality at each opportunity.
In January 2012, the USRPA returned to
China to meet with Chinese officials and
the local FAS staff at the U.S. Embassy
and Agricultural Trade Office. The result:
Chinese AQSIQ officials in Beijing said
they will meet in February after the
Chinese New Year to discuss requirements
for entry of U.S. rice. Officials also stated
that there are no potential problems to
establishing the protocols.
USRPA’s efforts to establish a rice protocol
between the USA and China are ongoing.
In the meantime, USRPA continues
to conduct market research, identify new
importers in the key markets of Beijing,
Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong in
coordination with FAS posts in China. Stay
tuned for new developments!
For more, visit www.usriceproducers.com.