U.S. rice imports are projected to reach a record high in the 2019-20 marketing year

Chart shows U.S. rice imports and share of domestic use, from 1985 to projections for 2019/2020

U.S. rice imports are projected to reach record levels in the 2019/20 marketing year (August–July). The 2.92 billion pounds of projected rice imports in 2019/20 are more than double the levels from 15 years ago. Imports are projected to account for more than 22 percent of domestic and residual use of rice in 2019/20. Aromatic and other specialty varieties from South Asia and Southeast Asia, which are not currently produced in the United States, account for the bulk of the imported rice, and these imports show long-term growth trends. The latter trends are driven by U.S. population growth, changing demographics, and greater restaurant sales. Additional recent growth has been due to the restoration of imports from China. Since May 2018, China has returned as a key supplier of medium- and short-grain rice to Puerto Rico. China supplied the bulk of Puerto Rico’s rice in 2006/07 and 2007/08, but was largely absent from the market for a decade. Increased imports from China represent over 90 percent of overall growth in U.S. rice imports in 2018/19 over 2017/18. This chart is drawn from data contained in the ERS Rice Outlook report released in June 2019.

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