Regarding the potential market for U.S. rice, China has had a history of purchasing rice for reasons of logistics and to acquire aromatic varieties. The U.S. rice industry would like an opportunity to supply China, but certainly face some cost and logistical disadvantages compared with rice from Southeast Asia.

As for specific marketing opportunities, there may be a combination of an initial novelty demand and subsequent niche markets which may become productive and sustainable. Currently, while not “legally present,” U.S. rice can be found in supermarkets in major cities within China, however, volume and distribution is very limited.

We believe the growing number of Chinese with discretionary income may become the primary target for imported, novelty or specialty rice products. Demand in these markets has yet to be tested but will be the primary initial area of focus if a phytosanitary protocol is established. The first and most important step will be to create an image for U.S. rice that will encourage consumers to demand it.

The USA Rice Federation is uniquely positioned to do just that. We have implemented promotions programs in Hong Kong and Taiwan for many years with the help of a Chinese contractor based in Shanghai. The contractor implements promotions programs for other U.S. agricultural products in China and thus has access to information and established contacts within the grocery and foodservice industries that would allow for a promotions campaign to be launched in very short order once we can legally export.

We look forward to a positive outcome of the pest risk assessment that will allow exports of U.S. rice under favorable conditions. We will continue to monitor the progress of U.S. officials negotiation with their Chinese counterparts and provide whatever support is needed or requested to reach that favorable outcome.