Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Global Harvest: Nurturing Success through International Promotion

By Sarah Moran
Chief Operating Officer
USA Rice

While the majority of rice consumed in the United States is homegrown, nearly half of our annual crop finds its way to international markets. This balance underscores the vital role of USA Rice’s international promotion programs in ensuring the enduring success of the U.S. rice industry as a whole. Our mission is clear: to get the rice you grow where it needs to go, whether destined for our neighbors in Central America or consumers on the other side of the globe.

Our promotional programs build, cultivate, and expand global export opportunities for U.S.-grown rice, and they are made possible by a combination of your state checkoff dollars, industry dues, and federal funding.

These funds are anything but guaranteed. Every year, we engage in a highly competitive application process to secure Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA/FAS). In 2024, thanks to the expertise and diligence of USA Rice committee members and the International Promotion team, we secured $5.2 million (with an additional $78,000 for wild rice) to promote U.S.-grown rice across global markets.

To capitalize on this substantial resource, the USA Rice International Promotion Committee and the USA Rice Council collaborate to develop a comprehensive international marketing budget each year.

Matched by your hard-earned dues and check-off dollars, MAP and FMD funds have facilitated U.S. rice exports to Japan and the United Kingdom, cultivated consumer preference in Mexico and the West Bank, and introduced U.S. rice to new importers worldwide. From the annual U.S. Rice Quality Symposium to a successful tour of the Mid-South for Central American importers—which resulted in more than a quarter of a million dollars in anticipated sales and regained market share—our efforts have made a significant impact.

Promotional activities at overseas supermarket chains have further strengthened U.S. rice’s presence in the UK, Colombia, and Taiwan—evidenced by a remarkable 500% spike in sales during an in-store demo at 14 Taiwan Costco stores, to highlight just one example. Beyond marketing, these funds enable vital collaborations with export countries: our work with chemical registrants ensures acceptable Minimum Residue Levels (MRL) on pesticides so that our exports aren’t restricted or rejected, and our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Iraq helps facilitate sales of at least 200,000 MT of U.S. long grain rice annually.

The partnership between USDA/FAS and the U.S. rice industry doesn’t just expand the volume and value of our exports; it improves farm income and strengthens the entire U.S. economy. The application of MAP, FMD, dues, and checkoff funds to our international programs yields measurable benefits, and we will continue to build upon our global successes in 2024.

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