Raising the U.S. Rice Profile in Guatemala

Chef Javier Rodriguez in the middle of a crowd of women wearing red Club Arroz aprons, preparing dish using US rice
Chef Javier helps home cooks mix it up
Apr 17, 2018
GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA -- Last week Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice manager of international promotion, and USA Rice contractors here, Ernesto Baron and Chef Javier Rodríguez, met with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Counselor Todd Drennan, and Attaché Sean Cox, as well as representatives of U.S. Rice Producers Association (USRPA) for a roundtable discussion of market access and promotional activities in the region.  Mr. Drennan led the group in a conversation exploring the opportunities and challenges for U.S. rice as compared to corn - the most consumed grain in the region.

Currently there is a Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) here that requires importers to purchase local Guatemalan rice before they can access the licenses to purchase U.S. rice duty free.  In less than five years, that TRQ will be phased out which could lead to a substantial increase in U.S. rice exports to the country.  

To further prepare for this, USA Rice met with current importers of U.S. rice as well as importers who plan to make the switch once the TRQs are phased out to discuss strategies to make U.S. origin rice more visible to the consumer.

“USA Rice educates hundreds of individuals throughout the year here via interactive promotions with student chefs, housewives, and in-store demonstrations focused on the versatility, nutritional benefits, and economic value of U.S. rice,” said Chef Javier, a well-known celebrity TV chef.  “We’ve found that these consumers really appreciate U.S. rice once they’re comfortable using it in various recipes and so we want to expand this knowledge to even more Guatemalans.”  

Guatemalan rice production is relatively low and they rely on imports for the majority of their rice consumption needs; seventy percent of the rice that they consume comes from the United States.  More than 116,000 metric tons (MT) of U.S. rice was imported in 2017, of which nearly 107,000 MT was paddy.  Guatemala imports the largest amount of U.S. rice among all other countries in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador), as the climate there severely restricts their ability to produce large amounts of high quality rice.