Annual rice consumption ranges from 17lbs per capita (Guatemala) to 143 lbs per capita (Panama). Rice is an essential part of the diet for Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua while corn is the preferred grain in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The U.S. has duty free access for a limited amount of rice exported to five of these countries via the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA- DR). Under the CAFTA-DR, countries must use equivalent local production to be eligible for import licenses; therefore, annual U.S. exports fluctuate based on local production. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement implemented in 2012 has allowed the U.S. to export a certain amount of rice duty free to Panama. Central America is a top five export market for U.S. rice, bringing in $185 million of U.S. rice in 2019; the majority of rice exported here is unprocessed/paddy long grain rice.
USA Rice Activities
USA Rice works closely with FECARROZ, the body that represents the Central American rice industry, including a reverse trade mission to Louisiana and Arkansas in 2019 for their members to learn about high quality varieties and identity preservation. Promotional activities have included social media campaigns with local health professionals, student chef workshops in Guatemala and nearly 200 in-store cooking demonstrations at grocery stores in El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras.