Nov 23, 2022
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – This country is known for amazing cuisine, rich culture, and now … American football! Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) played host to the cheerleaders and official mascots of the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers at the USDA Agricultural Trade Office (ATO)-National Football League (NFL) promotional event here. It was the second event of its kind with the dual purpose of creating an audience for American football and exhibiting American products. Several cooperators such as U.S. Soy, Washington Apples, and USA Rice were in attendance.
USA Rice Director of International Promotion for the Western Hemisphere Asiha Grigsby and her special team wowed the USDA attendees with freshly-made parmesan and shrimp rice balls served with a four-cheese sauce cooked up on-site by USA Rice Chef Ambassador Giuseppe di Pasquale that earned a flag for “unnecessary deliciousness.”
USA Rice also staged “rice challenge” field games to promote healthy eating and physical activity with the Arroz Americano Autentico balance beam, hammer slam, and rice bag toss. Participants could calculate their personal health numbers, comparing their fitness age with their biological age, using a series of measurements taken by a digital scale.
Jason Hafemeister, USDA Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and the NFL Mexico’s Vice President and Managing Director Arturo Olivé Hawley visited the USA Rice booth to learn about the organization’s promotional activities and sample Chef Pasquale’s culinary creations.
While in Mexico, Grigsby met with representatives from the importers La Merced and Grupo Patron, and the Mexican Rice Council. The importers have been impressed with the Arroz Americano Autentico logo campaign but also voiced concern for market factors that have made U.S.-origin rice less accessible compared to other origins.
“Mexico has been our largest export market since the implementation of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which is now known as the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). In the early 2000s, the U.S. enjoyed virtually 100 percent market share in the country,” said Grigsby. “In recent months it has slipped to under 40 percent due to several extraordinary market factors including transportation logistics and the elimination of tariff-rate-quotas for all origins implemented by Mexican government as an anti-inflation measure.”
To counter these challenges, USA Rice is working with our trade partners and supporters of U.S. products, such as the USDA, to boost awareness among Mexican consumers of the unmatched health and safety benefits of U.S. rice.
From January to September of this year, the U.S. exported 373,000 tons of rice valued at $185 million, a 40 percent decline from the same period in 2021 when the U.S. exported 625,000 tons of rice valued at $244 million.