The USRPA began monitoring the Chinese rice market in 1998-99 through the work of two experienced market analysts. With support from FAS posts, these efforts of monitoring Chinese production and consumer issues continued and led to the awarding of funds under the Emerging Markets Program to further assess the Chinese market on behalf of the US rice industry. These funds were used to conduct Chinese consumer tastings and surveys in upscale supermarkets in several large cities. Coordinating with FAS, EMP funded activities were carried out for several years and resulted in the initiative from APHIS to establish a protocol that did not previously exist. Several years of negotiations between APHIS and AQSIQ (Chinese government counterpart) including the inspection visits led to a final agreement approved by both governments. This process was supported by both US rice groups.
USRPA Past Performance and Evaluation Results
In recent years USRPA hosted several Chinese government and non-government visits and brought US rice industry to China several times to meet with Chinese importers and industry contacts. These trips combined had substantial success that improved further understanding of both industries and facilitate buyers’ interest. USRPA has since maintained a comprehensive list of Chinese industry contacts and is in constant communication with key contacts to answer questions and monitor feedbacks. A dedicated staff is added to focus on eastern hemisphere market development.
In early 2017, USRPA hosted a delegation from China Department of Agriculture to visit local rice farms and industry. All delegates had positive impression of US farm operations as well as the high standard that the industry holds up to.
Later in 2017, USRPA hosted a meeting with a high-level group of China National Association of Grain Sector (CNAGS) led by V.P. Mr. Ren in Washington D.C. The meeting paved the road for building a strong relationship of both associations and gaining access to Chinese rice importers.
Additionally, in May 2019 USRPA co-hosted a large group of Chinese rice importers led by CNAGS to visit local mills and held a round-table meeting as well as a reception. APHIS was also invited to the meeting to give Chinese importers a presentation on US rice grading and standard. The visit was so well received that Chinese importers not only observed how US rice is produced, processed, and distributed, but also were assured of the quality and vast variety of US rice, especially in terms of sustainability and safety. USRPA staff worked with CNAGS closely on invitation and itinerary etc. Due to uncertainties surrounding trade war and retaliatory tariff imposed, trade activity was put on hold.
By invitation of USRPA, one month later another group of Chinese rice industry led by CNAGS attended Rice Market and Technology Convention in New Orleans. USRPA scheduled meetings for Chinese to visit a local grading lab and one-on-one meetings with several mills during the convention. Long grain rice samples from different mills were presented and feedback was collected and discussed with mills. The trip was a great opportunity for the Chinese industry to learn about the US rice industry, especially in the Delta region.
Following the success of two visits of Chinese rice industry groups, with ATP funding USRPA brought 9 delegates including USRPA staff and industry members to visit trade contacts in China and attended 17th China International Grain and Oil Expo (CIGOEX) at the invitation of CNAGS. USRPA promoted US rice at a booth, scheduled several meetings with Chinese importers in Beijing and Shanghai as well as visited COFCO. US medium and long grain rice samples were presented and discussed to identify market potential and consumer preference. We found that there is a premium market for US rice that addresses food safety and sustainability. US embassy and FAS post provided great support to join USRPA at the booth and assisted with meetings with importers. As a result of the visit, 20 new contacts were established, and 5 requests of samples were received.
In response to interest from an importer, USRPA staff and member traveled to Louisiana to meet with the importer again in December 2019, when USA Rice organized a reverse trade mission to US by a group of Chinese rice companies. Different rice samples were cooked, and feedback were collected immediately from the importer.
Although USRPA staff’s travel to China in early 2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19, USRPA has continuously maintained communication with Chinese trade contacts online or on social media such as WeChat to continue research and network and also kept abreast with trade developments with China. Additional samples were requested because of such contacts.