Excellent Prospects for U.S. Medium Grain, Wild Rice in Turkey Despite Market Challenges

Comparing rice varieties
Jul 05, 2017
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – USA Rice was in Turkey last week and met with millers, traders, packers, and food service distributors to assess market prospects for U.S. medium grain rice and to discuss possible promotional activities for U.S. wild rice, a product gaining increasing popularity in the Turkish market.  

Despite market challenges, that include competition from domestic Turkish rice and third country suppliers, concerns over cross-contamination of GMO-free rice on barges shipping GM corn and soybeans, and the alleged presence of white-tipped nematodes, prospects for commercial sales of U.S. medium grain rice to Turkey remain very positive.  

“The message we consistently heard all week was the strong preference Turkish consumers have for U.S.-grown medium grain rice, mainly due to superior cooking characteristics, and because it makes a perfect pilaf preferred by Turkish palates,” said Hugh Maginnis, USA Rice vice president international.  “However, to ensure that our rice reaches those consumers unabated we must redouble our efforts to service Turkish importers and to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Turkish authorities to address any remaining technical issues.”  

The delegation also met with a major Turkish food service partner to encourage further growth in Turkish consumption and awareness of U.S.-grown wild rice.  Wild rice has been gaining in popularity with the high-end consumer segment in Turkey due to a successful USA Rice promotional campaign here.
USA Rice also co-hosted a seminar with PAKDER, a Turkish association representing nearly 50 major rice packers and traders, and staff briefed seminar attendees on the current U.S. rice supply and demand situation, including crop status in the south and California.  

PAKDER Secretary General Melahat Ozkan gave a brief on a new packaging law that establishes hefty penalties for blending different rice varieties.  The law could be a positive development for retail sales of U.S.-grown rice, as it will require clear identification of variety and country-of-origin on rice packages.  

The event touted wild rice, as well as wild rice mixes with U.S. white rice, as a means to increase the value of foodservice meals.  At dinner, participants tasted different recipes prepared with both U.S. white and wild rice.  

“Seminars in this $30 million market where we get to communicate directly with the trade are invaluable,” said Maginnis.  “We count on opportunities like this to maintain that positive momentum.”