My father, Cesar Corrales Ines, founded Arrocera Los Corrales S.A. (ALCSA) in 1972 as a white and parboiled rice milling operation. I’m the second generation in the business and have been involved since 1989. We have been importing rice for about 20 years from the USA. Although the main staple food in Guatemala is corn because of our strong Mayan roots, rice has become a very important basic staple, mostly in the urban areas. The big challenge for our industry has been and will be to persuade the Mayan population in Guatemala to eat more rice and less corn. We have been making progress.
Although the United States has great logistical advantages to ship rice to Central America, for me, quality predictability and reliability are the main factors why we like to buy U.S. rice. Our experience in the last 20 years has been very good except for the last three years in which we have seen a big decline in U.S. rice quality. That made us look for other options in South America. For the first time, in 2013 we decided to import rice from other origins. I would like to be clear that assuming similar conditions of quality predictability and reliability, we would always prefer to import rice from the U.S.
Long-grain is the preferred variety, and our customers like a very low percentage of chalky grains. We like rice varieties with high amylose content. In our experience, they offer the best cooking characteristics in white and parboiled rice. And last, but not least, milling quality is important. U.S. rice has always offered good milling quality.
The United States has to be very careful with the varieties they promote amongst rice producers. Historically, the U.S. has always provided long-grain varieties that offered good milling yields and great cooking characteristics. This reputation has suffered in the last three years, but I believe that most millers in Central America want to keep doing business with the U.S. The last two shipments of rice we received in 2013 were of very good quality. I hope in 2014 we will continue to see an improvement in U.S. rice quality.
Jose Antonio Corrales
Presidente Ejecutivo, ALCSA
“In all of the commodities, when a new issue presents
itself, resolving it starts at the farmer level. This is what
we are facing today regarding the quality of U.S. rice.”
– Ronnie Berry