The world not only produced a record crop of rice in 2012-13, but is on pace to consume and trade the commodity in record amounts as well, according to Nathan Childs, senior rice market analyst with USDA’s Economic Research Service, speaking at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Coronado, Calif.

World rice production for 2012-13, an estimated 465.3 million tons, is expected to be a record by a small amount, less than 1 percent higher than a year ago, according to Childs. Record crops are expected for China, Egypt, Vietnam and Cambodia. Production fell in Brazil, India and South Korea, which had its smallest crop since 1980-81.

Global consumption, at 468.5 million tons, is forecast larger than global production, according to Childs, with higher consumption projected for Bangladesh, China, Egypt, United States, India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Global ending stocks, at 102.5 million tons, are down from a year ago, but are still the second highest in a decade. The global stocks-to-use ratio is a little over 20 percent, “which is not bad for a major feed grain. We look for stocks to remain rather stable over the next decade,” Childs said.

World rice trade in calendar year 2012 is projected at a record 38.5 million tons due to massive exports by India, (about 10 million tons) large shipments from Vietnam and record imports by West Africa and China.

Nearly every country in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially West Africa, imported a record amount of rice in 2012, Childs said. “The imports were driven by low prices for Indian rice and large supplies of Indian rice. It was not driven by weak production. Those countries are overbought and have large supplies going into 2013, so they won’t need to buy as much in 2013.”

Trade will decline to 36 million tons in calendar year 2013, according to Childs. “China should drop back on its imports. It’s going to take a couple of years before we get back to a more stable situation where Thailand is shipping 10 million to 11 million tons and India is shipping its typical 6 million to 7 million tons.”

Vietnam is exporting at a record pace this year and should come in around 7.5 million tons, Childs noted. Vietnam’s rice price is about $150 tons lower than U.S. prices. U.S. prices, meanwhile are tracking Thai prices very closely.

U.S. picture

U.S. rice ending stocks in 2012-13 are projected lower by 27 percent, with a stocks-to-use ratio of about 15 percent. “Long grain rice is accounting for most of the decline. The long-grain stocks-to-use ratio is under 10 percent, which is very tight.”

U.S. exports are projected 3 percent higher than last month, mostly long-grain rice destined for markets in Latin America. U.S. long-grain exports are projected 11 percent higher in 2012-13 with Colombia’s tariff rate quota a major factor. “Colombia had not been a significant buyer of U.S. rice at all.”

Total domestic use is projected to increase 13 percent from last year. U.S. imports are projected to increase 6 percent (38,000 tons) mostly due to large shipments of brokens from Vietnam. “We were not expecting that,” Childs said. “Brokens are mostly used in processed products.”

Total U.S. rice production is estimated 7 percent higher than last year based on a projected record U.S. yield of an estimated 7,417 pounds per acre. Arkansas and Missouri both increased area in 2012, “which had to do with recovery from weather problems in 2011. All of the other states contracted acres.”

U.S. rice area, at about 2.7 million acres this season, “was about what it was in the mid-1980s when there were substantial acreage reduction programs in effect,” Childs said.

Childs projects higher U.S. long grain, rough rice prices on strong demand for U.S. long grain rice. “The South American market is critical to this projection.”

Childs sees a slight increase in U.S. medium-short grain prices, little growth in global demand and stronger competition in the global market from Egypt and Australia.

For the United States in 2013-14, Childs projects slightly higher production costs, much smaller carryin and a small decline in long-grain area, which will more than offset higher medium-grain plantings. He projects a smaller long-grain crop, slightly larger medium and short-grain crops, a small growth in total imports and much tighter U.S. rice supplies.

For domestic demand in 2013-14, Childs sees smaller total domestic and residual use of rice, partly due to a small crop. He projects a big drop in long-grain exports due to tight supplies and reduced competitiveness. He sees a small increase in medium-short grain exports, a decrease in all-rice ending stocks, lower global trading prices, higher U.S. long-grain rough rice prices and slightly weaker U.S. medium-short grain rice prices.

Globally for 2013-14, Childs projects increased global area for 2013-14, mostly due to area expansion in South Asia (India) and South America, slightly higher average global yield, a record global crop and record total use.