Rice Market: Mexico Drops Pest-Related Ban on Uruguayan Imports

Rice field pre-flood. ©Debra L Ferguson

In September 2019, Mexico banned imports of Uruguayan milled rice after finding khapra beetle in a shipment. The embargo on Uruguayan rice came to an end late last month when Mexico granted temporary entry for the next 90 days to ensure adequate rice supply while the country weathers the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand Mexico wanting to bring in more rice due to this crisis, and we trust that Mexico’s National Health Service, Food Safety and Food Quality (SENASICA) will continue to safeguard Mexico’s imports,” said Todd Burich, chair of the USA Rice Latin America Trade Policy Committee.

Although Uruguay exports both rough and milled rice, the majority of what they ship to Mexico is milled.  Similar to the U.S., Uruguay does not pay tariffs on rice sold to Mexico.

While U.S milled rice exports to Mexico stayed fairly constant during the last seven months when Uruguayan rice was out of the market, exports of U.S. rough rice increased by seven percent to an average of 23,000 tons per month.

Mexican milled rice importers are using U.S. rough rice milled in Mexico to meet growing demand.  Mexican consumers, like their counterparts in the U.S., have been influenced by the global pandemic and are purchasing larger amounts of rice from retail than is typical.  And, like in the U.S., many stores in Mexico are now limiting the amount of rice that can be purchased per customer.

As many traditional consumer facing promotional activities are on hold given Mexico’s nationwide restrictions on non-essential economic activities through the end of the month, USA Rice has focused on revamping our social media presence, developing materials for trade shows later in the year, and commencing research into the physiological benefits of rice that would resonate with Mexican consumers.




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