On Wednesday, Ralston Family Farms announced a 9-metric ton (MT) commercial sale of long grain rice to China that arrived in July, the first U.S. rice shipment grown and sold there out of the mid-south. The shipment is just the second commercial U.S. shipment to be sold and unloaded in China since a phytosanitary protocol was signed in 2017. The first was 20 MT of California medium grain, shipped by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Rice last fall.
USA Rice spent more than 15 years working in the Chinese market and partnered with the U.S. government to lead talks with counterparts in China for nearly a decade before ultimately reaching an agreement to allow for U.S. rice to be shipped in 2016. USA Rice then shepherded U.S. rice mills, including Ralston Family Farms, through the complex inspection process, making them one of just 32 U.S. milling facilities approved for export to China.
USA Rice works extensively to promote and market the approved exporters to Chinese state traders and private importers to help build demand for the wide range of U.S. production.
Other promotion activities spearheaded by USA Rice include social media campaigns, direct email, personal visits with traders, a trade mission bringing Chinese rice buyers to the U.S., a well-attended webinar about the 2020 U.S. rice crop, and exhibiting at international food shows, such as FHC China and SIAL China.
“The Ralstons are tenth-generation family farmers and everything they grow, they mill and package for retail,” said Kelly Robbins, executive director of the Arkansas Rice Federation. “They have done a lot of great work to get where they are, and we’re excited to see an Arkansas family operation be one of the first to successfully export to China.”
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The company indicated that there is another shipment currently going through clearance in China with additional shipments planned for the future.
“The Ralstons are showing once again what a forward-thinking and valuable member of the rice community they are,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.
“They also are one of just a few mills working to fill the increasing demand for U.S.-grown fragrant and specialty rices which is why we were happy to showcase their operation in our social media influencer campaign in 2019. Now we are looking forward to working with them to promote their product in China and continue to expand U.S.-grown fragrant rice production.”
As part of today’s announcement, the Ralston’s hosted an event at their farm attended by representatives from USA Rice and the Arkansas Rice Federation, along with Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.