Last week, USA Rice’s Dr. Steve Linscombe and Asiha Grigsby along with USA Rice consultant Marvin Lehrer met with the top wholesalers, millers, and packers in Mexico to provide samples of several varieties of high quality U.S. rice suitable for the Mexican market.
This tour was a follow-up to a successful USA Rice trade mission last November in Mexico City that brought together a 10-member delegation, staff, and the most important stakeholders in the Mexican rice industry to discuss the issues of U.S. rice quality and future export partnerships.
Historically, the United States enjoyed nearly 100 percent market share of rice exports in Mexico. However, over the last ten years, Mexican buyers have expressed growing concerns about the quality of U.S. rice. Their concerns led them to begin sourcing rice from other countries such as Uruguay, Thailand, and Argentina.
Last year Uruguay unseated the U.S. as the principle supplier of milled rice in Mexico and is increasingly preferred by importers as the quality leader. The current U.S. market share has fallen to 76 percent for all types of rice.
This trip was meant to recapture lost U.S. market share by making Mexican importers aware of the higher quality varieties of available U.S. rice.
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The itinerary included meetings with the leadership of major Mexican companies and buyers who showed interest in sourcing U.S. rice during the November trade mission. The USA Rice team visited the headquarters of the top millers, Schettino and Promexa, 22 of the top wholesalers at Mexico City’s Central Market, and the country’s top rice packer, Verde Valle.
“It’s an honor and a great opportunity to have the USA Rice team at Verde Valle,” said German Rosales, the company’s president and CEO. “It allows us to compare U.S. rice varieties to the quality that we are looking for and opens the possibility of once again purchasing from this country. We have come to an understanding and gained valuable knowledge from the USA Rice team today.”
The Verde Valle brand is the gold standard for long grain white rice and previously used U.S. rice in their products until quality concerns forced them to diversify their suppliers. They currently source long grain white rice from Uruguay.
At each stop on the tour, eight samples of U.S. rice were distributed in a blind test, and evaluated by industry experts based on preferred rice characteristics in the Mexican market. The same three varieties were consistently chosen by the testers in every region.
The exercise provided overwhelmingly positive feedback that USA Rice will use to further liaise with their Mexican counterparts and provide competitive rice varieties.
“It is obvious from our meetings that most of these companies would like to source higher quality rice from the U.S.,” said Linscombe. “The November trade mission and last week’s tour should facilitate accomplishing this goal moving forward.”
Mexico is the number one export market for paddy rice and number two in milled long grain rice behind Haiti. As of November 2018 the U.S. exported 600,345 MT of all types of rice to the country.