Trade Mission in Taiwan as U.S. Brands Reach Retail Market

Grocery store rice aisle in Taiwan filled with colorful packages
Make room on those shelves for U.S. rice
Apr 26, 2019
TAIPEI, TAIWAN -- USA Rice joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service’s Administrator Ken Isley and more than 50 companies, trade associations, and state departments of agriculture on a USDA-led trade mission to Taiwan earlier this week.  Additionally, USA Rice met with the four largest U.S. rice importers there and reported that two identified U.S. rice brands will soon be available in local retail markets.

“USA Rice’s promotion program has traditionally focused on foodservice and rice processors so retail is an exciting new area for us to promote U.S. origin rice,” said Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president international, who was on the trip.

U.S. medium grain from the south and California is exported to this market as part of their World Trade Organization (WTO) commitment to import 64,634 MT annually from the U.S.  It is imported in one of two ways:  either through Taiwanese government purchases or through a Simultaneous Buy Sell (SBS) tender where private importers can bid on the ability to import a set amount of U.S. rice.

When purchased by the Taiwanese government, the rice goes into warehouses or rice stocks here, which include both domestic and imported rice.  That total has reached more than 800,000 MT and thus the government is beginning to aggressively look to export it.  Taiwan’s rice exports increased 214 percent last year, with the majority of the rice headed to China.

“It’s through SBS tenders that identified U.S. rice is more prevalent and shows up at the retail level, in restaurants, and as part of rice cakes and snacks,” said Chris Crutchfield, chair of the Asia Promotion Subcommittee.  “There is a demand for American rice here by both the importers and consumers, and we’d love to see that need met.”

The itinerary also included briefings by the American Institute in Taiwan and meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute, the most authoritative institution on rice research in Taiwan.