USA Rice Hosts Chinese Importers on Tour through U.S. Rice Country

Group of people standing among rice research plots in greenhouse
LSU Rice Research Center
Dec 20, 2019
RICE COUNTRY, USA -- USA Rice hosted a group of seven Chinese importers for the past ten days, traveling with them through rice country in Arkansas, Louisiana, and California.  The tour kicked off at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Little Rock last week, where members of the delegation had one-on-one business meetings with several approved exporters to China.  

They toured several mills in Arkansas and Louisiana, and visited the Louisiana State University Rice Research Center where they learned about rice production practices in Louisiana, variety development, and the important role growers play in funding research and promotion for the betterment of the rice industry in the United States.      

“The group was very engaged at every stop on our tour,” said Kane Webb, USA Rice director of field services, who accompanied the group throughout the entire trip.  “They asked a lot of questions, particularly about jasmine and other varieties, packaging options related to consumer preference in their market, and the availability of milled rice throughout the year for export.  We were told the “Grown in the USA” logo was something Chinese consumers want to see on packages, as it reflects the assurance of a high quality, safe product.”

A highlight of the trip was the visit to a Louisiana crawfish farm as China consumes more than 90 percent of the world’s crawfish.

“They saw crawfish being caught on John and Pat Shultz’s farm outside of Crowley,” said rice farmer Fred Zaunbrecher from Acadia Parish, Louisiana.  “We cooked them up later that day and had a great feast.  This trade mission has been an educational and enlightening visit, both for the Chinese importers and for us farmers as well, as we get to learn what characteristics are important to the Chinse rice consumer.”

The team then traveled to California where they attended a seminar with the California Rice Commission and their members, followed by one-on-one discussions with several approved exporters to China.

“Farmers’ Rice Cooperative (FRC) hosted an in-depth mill tour showcasing the high standards adhered to in the U.S. food safety program,” said Derek Alarcon, FRC director of export sales.  “They saw our state of the art milling and packaging equipment, and the process and procedures that ultimately provide some of the highest quality and safest rice produced anywhere in the world.  I believe our guests were impressed with the consistency and reliability of U.S. rice, and will share these attributes when marketing to Chinese consumers.”  

“The trip coincided with news of the U.S. and China nearing an agreement on trade, which includes increased purchases of U.S. agricultural goods including rice (see USA Rice Daily December 13, 2019),” said Webb.    “Everyone toasted to the positive news between the two governments and to the prospect of U.S. rice sales to China.”

USA Rice continues to facilitate meetings between Chinese importers and U.S. exporters, with the next opportunity being at the SIAL show in Shanghai in May 2020.