Out of Asia Brazil Becomes World’s Top Rice Consumer and Producer

Rice Brazilian exports of rice from March to August totaled 560,000 tons. The result is equivalent to 93% of the initial forecast of the National Food Supply Company (Conab), according to which foreign sales should total 600,000 tons of rice by February 2010. Presently, Brazil exports to 56 countries.

According to the technician for planning at the Conab, Regina Santos, the export result is very positive for the sector, because there are still six months left before the end of the business year.

"We should exceed the initial forecast. As for imports, there should be a reduction, because the estimate was that we would purchase 800,000 tons by February 2010, and up until July we have only imported 347,000 tons, which is good for Brazil," she says.

Brazil is currently the leading producer and consumer of rice in the world, not counting the Asian continent. The Brazilian product started gaining renown in the foreign market last year, when India, the third largest exporter of the grain, withdrew its product from the market in order to curb local inflation in food prices.

According to Regina, imports by Russia, the United Kingdom and Africa, the continent with the strongest demand for rice in the world, are the driving forces behind the good results in Brazilian exports of the product.

African countries are the leading destination of Brazil sales, and account for 75% of the country's exports. However, targets such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to which Brazil exported for the first time this year, are starting to gain weight in Brazilian sales.

To the market advisor of the Rice Institute of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Irga), Marco Aurélio Tavares, the performance of rice exports in the first half of the business year will be crucial for reducing surplus production in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which should produce 7.9 million tons of the grain. Foreign sales also result in better earnings for farmers, thus encouraging new investment.

"From March to August, the United States and the Asian countries were in the period between crops, which is already over," explains the advisor. "Competition will be much more fierce from now on, but still we believe that we may export another 200,000 tons or so before the business year ends," says Tavares.

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