October 29, 2020
In This Issue:
- First Chinese Import of U.S. Rice Since Rice Protocol Established by USRPA and GACC
- Rice Market Update
- Rice Market & Technology Convention Goes Viral
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The first U.S. rice shipment arrived in Xiamen in Fujian Province of China this week thanks to two decades-long joint efforts by USDA FAS, US-China government authorities, and two rice industry organizations USPRA and USA Rice. The exciting news came along with the ongoing implementation of Phase 1 of the Chinese Trade Agreement.
The US Rice Producers Association has remained in contact with the importer Xiamen Mingsui Grains & Oil Trading Co. Ltd, who is the first importer that struck a deal with ADM and further distribute to a high-end food chain, Sungiven, 20 tons of Calrose rice. The container of 5kg packages of medium grain rice arrived at the Chinese port and cleared customs smoothly according to the importer.
A group of Chinese importers, including Xiamen Mingsui, visited U.S. rice states last December on a USDA reverse trade mission organized by USARF. Several staff and representatives of the US Rice Producers Association joined the group in Louisiana and California where they met with importers and presented cooked rice samples. On a follow-up contact with the importer in May, Xiamen Mingsui mentioned that the conversation of potential import of 20 tons of Calrose was in progress with ADM. USRPA continued open communications with USDA staff in the Beijing embassy in an effort to facilitate the transaction. Despite the fact that both USDA and USRPA did offer assistance, the importer decided to continue on their own with ADM given the size of the business. Although there is still a dispute on the category of medium and long grain U.S. rice based on the Chinese rice code, the first medium grain was imported under long-grain due to its width-to-length ratio.
“The first commercial U.S. rice shipment to China clears customs this week. China is the world’s top rice consumer-expect to build on this sale w/much more in the future. This is a good first step to what we hope to be many more shipments of high-quality, nutritious & affordable U.S. rice,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
USRPA President & CEO, Dwight Roberts added, “China is a fascinating market and our more than twenty years of development work will generate even more opportunities for our farmers and mills.”
The US Rice Producers Association was the first rice organization that began researching the Chinese rice market over two decades ago. USRPA delegates traveled to China numerous times with the Emerging Markets Program funding to conduct a market study of both medium and long grain rice. The study indicated there was a demand for U.S. grown rice in China. USRPA then met with and initiated protocols with the General Administration of Customs of China (formerly called AQSIQ). USRPA’s efforts led to a visit of several U.S. rice mills by Chinese authorities to finalize the protocol.
USRPA representative, Stuart Hoetger (pictured left), with Mr. Ray Zhang of Xiamen Mingsui Grains & Oils Trading Co, Ltd. (pictured right) at a reception this past December.
Last week the US Rice Producers Association launched its first in a series of Virtual Rice Market & Technology Convention seminars. Since the pandemic has made in person meetings and international travel impossible, USRPA has been providing virtual seminars for its members and affiliated industry throughout the world.
In this latest project, USRPA is presenting a variety of topics from world renown speakers in easy to digest seminars to our past and future RMTC attendees. Sponsors and Exhibitors of our postponed RMTC in Panama are also benefiting from the seminars as attendees are encouraged to visit the virtual booths and visit with them via Zoom.
The first RMTC Virtual Seminar featured a thorough examination of today’s world rice market. Dwight Roberts started with “The Perfect Storm Isn’t Over” – a look at how the pandemic and recent weather is affecting the US rice crop and what to expect. Stuart Hoetger continued with “Ongoing Harvest Update and Cash Markets” followed by Dennis DeLaughter’s presentation, “Rice Futures and the Market Fundamentals as COVID-19 Continues.” Milo Hamilton closed out the presentations with “Asian Rice Hovering over the Americas and World Markets.” The speakers concluded the seminar with a round table discussion, addressing questions and comments from the audience.
“These kinds of virtual meetings are important for the buyers and sellers of US rice as a part of the food supply chain during this disrupting COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for a needed exchange of market information,” commented Dwight Roberts.
The next seminar will be announced shortly and will feature speakers touching on topics involving the Mercosur rice market. The seminar will be open to all on a first come, first serve basis for the first 100 participants who register but will be made available for on-demand viewing on our website: www.RiceMTConvention.com.
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US Rice Producers Association continues its efforts to enhance American long grain rice consumption in Mexico, this time with a program intended to create a gastronomic training experience by engaging consumers with professional chefs.
USRPA has been conducting cooking lessons through Facebook Live with the collaboration of Professional Chef Valeria Ochoa, teaching how to prepare delicious recipes with American long grain rice and constantly interacting with the viewers, solving their questions and advising them on different ways to include rice in their family’s diet. From a Rice with Chili to a Rice Pizza, USRPA followers have been learning amazing recipes to vary their rice consumption.
This series of lessons has been supported by USDA through the Agricultural Trade Office in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Director of ATO Monterrey and Luis Chavez, Marketing Specialist for ATO, stated his satisfaction with the current results and requested some of his favorite recipes to be included in the lessons.
The program will continue to perform for the rest of the year and will feature Professional Chef Melissa Morelos, finalist of Master Chef cooking contest and US Rice Producers Association’s ambassador in Mexico, who will teach traditional American recipes for the most demanding tastes.
Harvest in Heilongjiang Province is currently underway for medium grain rice. The province is in northeast China and accounts for 6 million tons of Chinese medium grain production and is known for growing award-winning medium grain varieties, including Wuchang and Yanshou. Rice from the region is famous for its stickiness, sweet after taste and unique cooking properties thanks to its unique geographical location which provides a significant difference in day and night temperature and unpolluted soil.
The region from Ha’erbin all the way to Jiamusi has suffered 3 hurricanes this summer, causing lodging of soybeans and corn, while the majority of the rice crop survived. Typically, harvest in the region is completed in early October, unfortunately, recent wet weather resulted in a slower than normal harvest. Due to continuous rains, combines and machinery were not able to go into the fields, therefore most of the crop is dependent on labor harvesting, delaying harvest by another month.
USRPA has developed a friendship with the rice industry in the Heilongjiang Province and welcomes the opportunity to visit with members and allied industries in the region for future trade missions with China.
Like most of 2020 you can expect the unexpected. The last time a large volume of U.S. rice was exported to Brazil was in 2002/2003 when 342,000 tons (milled basis) was sold to the largest rice-producing and consuming country in the Western Hemisphere. The variety known as Cocodrie was a common southern long-grain at the time. Due to a set of circumstances brought about by the coronavirus and climatic conditions, a shortage of rice in Brazil is a serious matter for government officials as they address food security issues in the country. This week in the Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana, rice farmers of the South Louisiana Rail Facility (SLRF) are making their own history as they truck rice into the port’s bulk grain facility for a shipment of 30,000 tons.
A member of the US Rice Producers Association, the SLRF has become an important entity in the rough rice export market during its brief history as an organization. “It has not been easy but this group of farmers has not let a number of obstacles get in their way,” says Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of the USRPA, adding, “They just go around them and make it happen.”
After severe damage by two hurricanes, while dodging COVID-19 interruptions throughout the growing season, SLRF organized shipments to Mexico, Honduras and Brazil during 2020. A second 30,000 ton vessel for Brazil is expected to load the first week in November. Brazil recently announced suspending import tariffs on corn, soybeans and by-products to alleviate shortages and high prices just as the government had previously done for rice imports.
Earlier this year the SLRF farmers announced plans to construct a rice mill in the Lacassine Industrial Park on property maintained by the rail facility in a partnership with India-based Agreeta Farmer Network.
This week from Corrientes, Argentina we received the sad news of the passing of Daniel Filigoi, a leader and supporter of the Argentine rice farming industry. A regular participant at the Rice Market & Technology Convention, Daniel was a friend and contributor to the success of the conference. Daniel’s smile, laugh, sincerity, positive attitude, energy and willingness to help will be missed by everyone who knew him and we send our greatest sympathy to his wife Marta and all the family and friends.