Exports of U.S.-grown rice increased by more than 15 percent to 110.2 million cwt (rough equivalent) in the 2009/10 marketing year (August 2009 through July 2010), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2009/10 Rice Yearbook report released Jan. 5, 2011. The report details the global rice market conditions that supported the increase, including tight supplies, weather-related crop losses and competitive U.S. prices.

Despite early predictions for record worldwide production, global production declined 2 percent from the previous marketing year, to 441.2 million tons, the first decline since the 2002/03 marketing year. In addition, crop shortfalls resulted in global prices well above both their long-term averages and early projections throughout 2009/10.

Total U.S. rice exports increased by 15 percent in 2009/10

The majority of the growth in total U.S. rice exports resulted from dramatic increases in rough rice shipments -- up 30 percent in the 2009/10 marketing year compared with the previous year and representing 63 percent of the total annual increase in all-rice exports.

Among other significant findings reported for the 2009/10 marketing year:

• Exports to Mexico, the largest single-country U.S. rice market, increased by 20 percent.

• The Middle East overtook Central America as the second-largest export market for U.S.-grown rice -- up more than 50 percent.

• U.S. exports to Central America, the third-largest U.S. export market, increased by nearly 18 percent to 608,000 tons on a product weight basis.

• Exports of long-grain rice increased 10 percent to 75.4 million cwt due largely to higher demand for rough rice in the Western Hemisphere.

• U.S. milled rice exports increased 8 percent from 2008/09 due mostly to shipments to markets in Northeast Asia.

• U.S. rice exports are up 36 percent year-to-date (August-October) in the current marketing year versus exports in the same period in the 2009/10 marketing year.