While Turkey was once a top market for U.S. rice, bringing in more than 100,000 tons annually, that all changed with the imposition of a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on all types of U.S. rice in June 2018. As a result, U.S. rice exports dropped to an average of 1,500 MT/year for the past two years.
That dramatically changed this month with a shipment of 25,000 MT of U.S. rough rice, after a successful Agricultural Trade Promotion-funded reverse trade mission.
Last fall, USA Rice invited three senior officials from the Turkish Grain Board (TMO) and the USDA Agricultural Specialist in Turkey to visit U.S. rice farms, mills, and exporters in California and Arkansas.
USA Rice members and TMO officials met face-to-face to discuss improvements to tender terms and the high-quality standards of U.S. rice, with the aim to reestablish the once robust Turkish market.
Following the reverse trade mission, the TMO issued a tender in January 2020, inviting U.S. rice suppliers to participate for the first time since 2018. The TMO has been authorized by the Turkish government to import a total of 100,000 MT of rice at zero duty via government tenders through December of this year.
“Traders in Turkey are excited about having U.S.-origin rice back in the Turkish market,” said Eszter Somogyi, USA Rice director of promotions for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
“As soon as identified U.S. rice is available on the retail shelves, we plan to conduct promotions differentiating U.S.-origin from other rice origins that have entered the market recently, emphasizing our high quality and suitability to Turkish cuisine. As with all other promotional activities at this point, we will conduct what is feasible and most efficient given social restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”