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.