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.