Rice is the primary staple food for more than half the world’s population. Its second primary use is the production of alcoholic beverages, and it also used to produce pet food.
Key facts about the rice market
- Being the world’s primary staple food, rice is produced all around the globe. Around 500 million tonnes of rice are produced every year, with just 10% of that being traded outside domestic markets as most rice remains in the country in which it is grown.
- The consumption of rice, as a staple food, is tied closely to population change. With the world population forecast to rise drastically into 2100, so is rice consumption. While rice consumption is expected to increase by about 25% in the next 25 years, the rate of change differs according to taste and economic strength. As consumers increase incomes, their tastes diversify, meaning the share of rice in one’s diet also changes.
- The world’s biggest exporter of rice is India, at over 11 million tonnes. Thailand and Vietnam both export around 7-8 million tonnes per year. The US is one of the world’s top-ten exporters at around 3 million tonnes per year.
- China has generally been the world’s largest importer of rice, at around 3 million tonnes per year. However, recently the Philippines replaced China as the world’s largest importer. Other major importers include various Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Jordan as well as the European Union.
- The main price driver in the rice market is supply and demand, and then variety. Rice comes in hosts of different varieties, which are commoditized in long grain, medium grain, and short grain. Different countries have different tastes and preferences. For example, South Korea prefers medium grain, while Guatemala prefers long grain.