Because rice is an excellent basic food in Costa Rica and for
many poor countries in the region, quality is important. Consumer
surveys show that the three most important attributes are that the
rice is uniform, not sticky, after cooking; has a bright, white color;
and high whole grain. These quality aspects are more important
than the price.
U.S. rice is showing very high levels of chalky grain and chalk
instead of translucent grain. Central America is an important
market for U.S. rice, but it is threatened by the low quality of the
shipments that have been received after 2010. Countries such as
Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil that have high-quality rice today
have already been placing an increasing volume of rice for Central
America to the detriment of imports from the United States.
I know that there is good quality rice in the United States
because CL111 was rated at 0.8 percent chalk and CL152 at 0.6
percent chalk using Nicaraguan grading standards. These standards
are more stringent than the current FGIS standards.
FECARROZ has submitted a list of recommendations to the
USDA with regards to adjustments in grading procedures and the
issuance of quality certificates. The rice buyers from Central
America would like to see the same procedures that are utilized in
the U.S. domestic marketplace applied to the export process to
Central America and a more direct involvement of the USDA. We
would like to see the definition of chalk broadened within the
current grading standards to incorporate “centro blanco” (white
bellies) as an aspect of the chalk interpretation.
FECARROZ also requests that USDA conduct quality analyses,
primarily for the chalky grains on all shipments of rice to Central
America. We are willing to cover this cost to show the difference
in the classification of a US#2 that in reality is a #3, according to
Central American buyers. As a final step for quality control, these
results also could be compared to the analyses performed by
technicians at final delivery.
“Consumer surveys show that the three most important
attributes are that the rice is uniform, not sticky, after
cooking; has a bright, white color; and high whole grain.”
– Carlos González Argüello
FROM SEED TO SHIPPING
• Costa Ricans include rice in every meal.
• U.S. rice is showing high levels of chalky grain and chalk.
• More direct USDA involvement is desired.
• Broaden the definition of chalk to include white bellies
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