Rice represents 20 percent of the world's per capita caloric consumption. More than 50 percent of the world's population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of its diet.
Rice is cultivated in more than 100 countries and on every continent except Antarctica - from sea level to an altitude of 3,000 meters. To keep pace with demand, technological advances in production are occurring rapidly. However, much of the world's rice crop is still dependent upon annual rainfall pat- terns, such as occur during the Asian monsoon season. Changes in world weather patterns can easily alter the delicate balance between world supply and demand, dramatically affecting world rice trade patterns and price levels.
World rice trade represents only about 5 percent of world consumption. However, this relatively small amount traded (worth roughly $5.0 billion annually) has a major impact on world economic and political policies.
Well over a hundred countries in the world import rice annually. Trade in rice is stratified according to rice types. More than three-fourths of the total rice traded in the world is long grain (Indica) rice. Most of the remainder is medium or short grain (Japonica) rice. About two-and-one-half-million tons of aromatic rice, and up to 100,000 tons of glutinous rice, are traded annually. For exporting nations, meeting market needs entails supplying the type, form, class and quality of rice that satisfy local taste preferences.
The United States is unique as a major exporter of all rice types. The U.S. rice industry is able to provide rice in whatever form desired (i.e. brown, milled, parboiled) and according to the shipment basis required (packaged, bagged, bulk, destination bagging, f.a.s., f.o.b., c.i.f., etc.). Quality standards for USA rice are closely adhered to and, in addition, are continually reviewed and updated. Thus the U.S. rice industry offers product diversity, availability, reliability, and service unsurpassed in the world.