During the last week of September, USA Rice was one of 14 companies that participated in the first-ever USDA Agricultural Trade Mission to Brazil to meet importers interested in U.S. rice, led by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Deputy Administrator Mark Slupek.
USA Rice participated in two days of business-to-business meetings here discussing U.S. rice with 20 companies, traders, and supermarkets. In addition to the meetings, the trade mission participants visited a wheat milling plant and a pasta and biscuit (cookies and crackers) manufacturing plant. During the biscuit manufacturing plant tour, Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president international, discussed using rice in new lines of gluten-free biscuits to the company’s commodity purchaser.
Brazil is one of the largest agricultural commodity producers in the world but it is also a huge and promising export market for U.S. products. Current transportation infrastructure hurdles within Brazil make logistics challenging and expensive so in many cases, importing from abroad is an economic and timely choice. One company that imports various food products commented on how expensive internal transportation is, stating that moving goods 2,300 miles between two ports in Brazil is more than twice as expensive as transport from Brazil to the U.S., which is more than twice as far.
“The majority of the rice consumed in Brazil is produced domestically and their imports come largely from Mercosur members (Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) at zero percent duty, however, several of the companies expressed interest in U.S. rice,” said Moran. “Brazilians eat rice almost daily and consume about 85 pounds per capita annually. Additionally, Sao Paulo has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan and thus sushi rice is also prevalent in the market here. There was significant interest in U.S. rice, particularly our specialty rices.”