Participants of the second Rice Leadership Development International Program session recently completed a tour of the country’s rice industry. The program is designed to provide rice industry leaders with extensive knowledge about U.S. rice marketing activities abroad.

During the weeklong visit, the group met with executives from Akel Co., a major U.S. rice importer and Turkey’s rice market leader, and Pakder, the Turkish Rice and Pulses Packers Association that has more than 70 members who package both rice and pulses. Participants also met with executives of Tugider, the Turkish Food Foreign Trade Association that works closely with USA Rice Federation to ease import restrictions and address import bans; and Samet Serttas, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service representative.

Program participants also toured wholesale and retail stores that sell U.S.-grown rice; visited Berbak Co., a packaging company that sells American rice in major Turkish supermarkets; and participated in a cooking contest for student chefs that was covered by two television stations. Turkey was selected as the destination for the session because of its growing importance to the U.S. rice industry and because it provided an opportunity for the participants to observe an international market with an existing USA Rice promotional program. Turkey purchased $127.2 million in U.S.-grown rice from January through August. It is the fourth-largest export market by volume for U.S. rice exports this year.

Producer members of the class are Jessica Lundberg, Richvale, Calif.; Linda Raun, El Campo, Texas, and Bubba Simmons, Hollandale, Miss. Industry-related members are Joe Carraway, Riceland Foods, Inc., New Madrid, Mo.; and Kent Wiley, Sun Foods, Durham, Calif. Dr. Brian Ottis, of RiceTec, Inc., accompanied the class.