Japanese Government Checks-In on Rice Purchasing Progress

Group shot of people sitting around conference room table
Rice reps from U.S. and Japan stay current
Dec 16, 2019
ARLINGTON, VA – Last Friday, USA Rice welcomed Yasuyuki Kobayashi, director of the Rice Trade Policy Office at Japan’s Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), to the Arlington office.  Kobayashi was joined by representation from the Embassy of Japan and several MAFF analysts, and discussed Japan’s 2019 crop production and consumption estimates.

MAFF preliminary figures show that production in Japan is slightly down from 2018 and that their domestic rice quality is significantly down this year, the lowest it’s been since 2010, largely due to extreme heat.  MAFF also shared that table rice consumption in Japan continues to decrease by nearly 100,000 MT annually, resulting from dietary changes and an aging population.  However, MAFF said decreased table rice consumption does not take into account the growth in the food service industry or processing industries (bento boxes, rice crackers, heat-and-eat, etc.).

Kobayashi also provided updates on Japanese tenders to date, and USA Rice expressed the continued desire for more U.S. rice purchases that have the ability to reach the Japanese consumer.

The two sides also discussed the recently signed U.S.-Japan partial trade agreement.

“With the limited U.S.-Japan trade agreement expected to be implemented on January 1, USA Rice will be pushing hard to encourage the comprehensive negotiations to begin, and for rice to be an integral part of those negotiations,” said Peter Bachmann, USA Rice vice president of international trade policy.

Negotiations could begin as early as next spring but face a difficult road with both sides seeking concessions on sensitive products such as rice and automobiles.