USA Rice Celebrates 20 Years in the UK

UK-Rice-Symposium-Poster Celebrating 20 Years in the UK
Honoring a legacy
Oct 14, 2022
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – A delegation of USA Rice members and staff traveled here this week to participate in the UK Rice Symposium and host a “USA Rice Day” at the U.S. embassy, celebrating two decades of promotions work in this important market.

To kick-off the week, the USA Rice delegation met with Julie Nicholson and Steve Knight with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service to hear about current politics in the UK and agricultural trade.  Dave Bench, CEO of Croplife UK, who also had previous stints with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, gave a briefing on maximum residual limits (MRLs) in the UK.  Bench noted that the country will likely be more pragmatic than the European Union but that new MRLs may not end up differing much in the end.

The UK Rice Symposium is typically a biannual event but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has not been held since 2018.  USA Rice sponsors this event, which is the most important gathering for the UK rice industry.  USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward gave an overview of the U.S. rice outlook and the latest consumer demands.  Mark Holt, chair of the USA Rice Europe, Middle East, Africa Trade Policy and Promotion Subcommittees, talked about current US-UK trade relations.

“The last time we were here at this event, President Trump announced his intention to begin free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the UK,” said Holt.  “Now, four years later, not much progress has been made.  The UK is keen on signing FTAs with India and other countries and has even pursued MOUs with individual U.S. states; meanwhile, the Biden Administration chooses to not prioritize expanding market access through removal of tariffs.  This is extremely frustrating for the U.S. rice industry as we know we’re on the bottom side of a tilted playing field.  In most of our key markets, sanitary and phytosanitary measures are not necessarily a hindrance for us, so the primary way we can improve access in those markets is through the reduction in duties and other import prohibitive restrictions as part of a comprehensive FTA.”

U.S. milled rice enters the UK under a tariff rate quota (TRQ) which limits the amount of rice that can be imported duty-free to roughly 13,000 metric tons and adds cost for importers who buy U.S. rice.  Meanwhile, all U.S. rice entering the UK outside of that milled rice TRQ is subject to varying duties on a per ton basis.

USA Rice ended the week here by hosting more than 120 importers, wholesalers, agricultural media, foodservice personnel, and others at the U.S. embassy to celebrate 20 years of promotions work in the UK.  Eszter Somogyi, USA Rice director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, spoke about the history of promotions in this market.
“Our marketing program here teams up with local importers to help support the sale of their brands, and in nearly every activity we do, whether it’s end-cap displays or online advertisements, we see an uptick in sales of U.S. rice,” said Somogyi.  “To date, the brands have contributed nearly $150,000 to further these marketing activities, showing their appreciation of U.S. rice and interest in our marketing activities.”

Representatives from the U.S. wild rice associations, Beth Nelson with the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council and Elizabeth Carranza with the California Wild Rice Advisory Board, talked about wild rice production in the U.S. and the health benefits of this grain.

The day concluded with a presentation by Chef Peter Sidwell on different U.S. rice types where he shared a selection of dishes he has developed using U.S. rice.  These recipes are included on the USA Rice UK website.

The UK is the 13th largest export market for U.S. rice, valued at $13.6 million so far this year.  It is one of the few markets that imports a wide variety of U.S. rice types including long grain milled, long grain parboiled, brown, and medium grain.