Global Markets: Rice – Venezuelan Purchases Up, Mostly Sourced from Brazil

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

In the first seven months of 2018, Venezuela has imported more rice than all of 2017. Purchases were particularly large ahead of the May 2018 elections.

The suppliers to Venezuela are markedly different than they were in past years. Typically, the United States has been the largest supplier of paddy rice. Given the tight 2017/18 supplies, U.S. prices were significantly higher in the first part of 2018, allowing South American paddy suppliers such as Brazil and Uruguay to make significant gains in market share.

Brazil was the primary supplier for the first portion of the year as its paddy prices have been significantly lower amid ample supplies. The strong shipments to Venezuela have been one factor enabling Brazil to soar to its highest exports in 6 years. Likewise, Uruguay has benefitted from large exports to Venezuela, primarily in paddy form, now its third-largest market.

Venezuelan milled rice imports have been mainly from Mexico.

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Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, the United States is expected to regain competitiveness in Venezuela and began shipping new-crop paddy rice in August. Given the continuing macroeconomic challenges and hyperinflation of around one million percent, the pace of imports is expected to slow somewhat in the coming months. Annual imports are expected to reach 500,000 tons in 2018.

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