U.S. rice exports to Mexico in the first four months of 2017 are up an impressive 23 percent over last year, bringing the U.S. market share to 93 percent, the highest since 2013. According to official Government of Mexico (GOM) sources, total U.S. rice exports to Mexico were 354,000 MT while third country exports were down nearly 60 percent, at 25,000 MT.
The surge in U.S. paddy exports to Mexico is partly being driven by exports of Mexican milled rice to Venezuela, however there is also an increase in the consumption of U.S. rice in Mexico. Over the past 15 years, rice consumption has grown 43 percent while the population has only grown 22 percent.
“While the per capita consumption is still relatively low at 16 pounds annually, it’s increasing each year and we expect that trend to continue,” says Gaby Carbajal, USA Rice’s promotion director in Mexico.
Competition for U.S. rice comes from both the Latin American region and Asia.
“Uruguay maintains a market segment of ‘quality’ here, but Asia is a somewhat mixed bag,” said Marvin Lehrer, USA Rice’s market consultant for Mexico. “There are reports from the market of growing concern and consumer pushback from the stickiness and smell of rice from Viet Nam. The U.S. benefits from unparalleled food safety standards and a reliable product, which is what customers here are looking for.”
Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. rice in both volume and value, and USA Rice conducts nearly 300 promotional activities here each year, ranging from trade shows to consumer seminars. Recently, USA Rice teamed up with a popular chain, Grupo Los Canarios and their 11 restaurants, to promote the U.S. rice-based dishes.
“In addition to rice dishes developed specifically for the cuisine of each different restaurant, USA Rice will train the chefs, cooks, and kitchen staff on cooking techniques, recipes, and nutritional information,” said Carbajal. “Through these and similar activities, USA Rice continues to promote the usage and consumption of U.S. rice.”