TOKYO, JAPAN -- Last week USA Rice leaders engaged in the export trade to Japan received a detailed briefing on USA Rice's promotional activities in Japan, where the focus is on the quality and safety of U.S. rice and the promotion of U.S. medium grain rice to the foodservice sector, deli operators, and retailers. U.S. rice is under particular challenge today because the depressed domestic price of Japanese rice, coupled with the high costs imposed by the Japanese government in the operation of the Simultaneous Buy-Sell system, severely reduces the cost competitiveness of imported U.S. rice.
Yumi Kojima, head of USA Rice's representative office in Tokyo, outlined Japan's domestic rice market situation, the relative competitive position of imported rice from various origins to Japanese rice, and outreach and promotion efforts to consumers, bloggers, restaurants, and retailers.
While here, the USA Rice team also attended the 18th annual U.S.-Japan rice technical meeting and met with staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service posted to the U.S. embassy.
"These annual meetings are an excellent and important venue for discussing and resolving technical issues with our Japanese counterparts with the goal of better mutual understanding and more efficient rice trade between our two countries," said Alex T. Balafoutis, U.S. delegation chairman and vice president, PGP International, Inc.
Both sides exchanged reports on the rice supply and demand situation in the United States and Japan, the U.S. rice export situation, and concluded with a discussion and overall positive assessment of the quality of U.S. rice.
In addition to Chairman Balafoutis, the U.S. delegation included Todd Burich, ADM Rice; Jess Errecarte, SunWest Foods; Jim Higa, Sun Valley Rice Co.; Kirk Messick, Farmers' Rice Cooperative; Michael Rue, rice producer, and USA Rice COO Bob Cummings.