Emerging Markets / November 10, 2016

Rice Production and Markets Worldwide

Rice is a major agricultural commodity grown and traded throughout the world. There are approximately 40.000 rice varieties and many of them represent a staple dish for cultures worldwide. There are four major rice groups known as indica, japonica, aromatic, and glutinous. Rice cultivation normally requires warm or tropical temperatures as well as substantial amounts of water. Therefore, the largest rice-producing continent in the world is Asia, particularly the southern and eastern regions, both of which receive a significant amount of Monsoon rain every year. This article explores the status of rice production and rice markets worldwide.

Rice Production and Markets Worldwide

Worldwide rice production has remained relatively stable throughout the last several years. During 2012/13, the total amount of milled rice production accounted for 472.5 million metric tons, increasing to 478.4 million for 2013/14. Afterwards, rice production increased slightly to approximately 478.7 million metric tons in 2014/15 and then overall yields decreased to 472.1 million during 2015/16. For the 2016/17 season, ongoing rice production already totals 483.8 million metric tons.

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Amongst the major producers are China and India with 145 million and 104 million metric tons of milled rice respectively, during the 2015/16 season. For 2016/17, worldwide production is expected to grow as countries such as Colombia, Japan, and South Korea substantially expand their crops. In terms of exports, India, Thailand, and Vietnam lead as suppliers to the international markets. During 2015/16, India exported some 10.5 million metric tons, while Thailand 9.2 million and Vietnam 5.4 million. It is important to mention that the price of non-fragrant rice in Thailand has remained stable throughout the last several years at approximately US$400 per metric ton. Meanwhile, the price of Thai fragrant rice has substantially decreased from approximately US$1,100 per metric ton to less than US$600 per metric ton.

Currently, global rice consumption is rising at a slower pace than production. Therefore, worldwide stocks are expected to increase during the next few years. In terms of imports, China, where aggregate demand for rice is relatively high because of domestic consumption, is the world’s leading buyer of this agricultural commodity. Similarly, Nigeria and the European Union are substantial importers of rice. During 2015/16, China imported some 4.6 million metric tons of rice, while Nigeria imported 2 million and the EU 1.8 million metric tons. Cuba, an important rice consumer in the Caribbean, has increased its rice imports throughout the last several years, from little over 300.000 metric tons in 2012 to almost 600.00 metric tons in 2015. Rice imports into Cuba originate mainly from Vietnam and Brazil.

In the case of the United States, total milled rice production equaled 6.1 million metric tons during the 2015/16 season. During the same time, imports accounted for 765.000 metric tons while exports totaled approximately 3.5 million metric tons. Unsurprisingly, the regions of the world with the largest rice reserve stocks are south, east, and southeast Asia. All three regions together had over 107 million metric tons of rice in stock reserves during 2015/16.

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