EU Rice Importers Say Price Only Thing Holding Back U.S. Sales
For the first time since the contamination of the commercial U.S. long-grain crop with genetically modified (GM) Liberty Link (LL) traits, several key EU importers have indicated that potential lingering contamination is no longer a deterrent to buying U.S. long-grain rice. The ongoing and successful U.S. industry efforts to remove the traits, reduced focus in Europe on the LL issue, and concern about potential contamination of rice with GM traits in other origins, particularly in Asia, that have displaced U.S. rice are likely responsible for this change.
In discussions with U.S. rice industry participants at the Federation of European Rice Millers (FERM) convention earlier this month, EU importers indicated that U.S. long-grain rice is currently not price competitive with other origins, and that this commercial factor is holding back U.S. sales.
Following the FERM meeting, USA Rice Federation members Marvin Baden, Producers Rice Mill; Chris Bonnesen, ADM Rice; Carl Brothers, Riceland Foods; and COO Bob Cummings met in Brussels with the Agricultural Affairs Office of the U.S. Mission to the EU, the EU Directorates General for Agriculture and Trade, and COCERAL, the EU association of grain users, to discuss prospects for U.S. rice market access under the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). T-TIP seeks to negotiate a free trade agreement between the United States and the EU.
No GM rice traits are approved in the EU, and U.S. long-grain rice exports to Europe have yet to recover from the 2006 LL contamination. Considerable work remains ahead with individual EU importers and retailers to take advantage of the apparent change in perception of U.S. long-grain in Europe.