Rice prices at $1,000 per metric ton compared to $200-300 per metric ton for most of this decade have grabbed media attention around the world. The easy explanation is increased production of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. A closer look at the numbers shows a global industry at the beginning of a transition that will have major impacts on production, consumption and trade.

These issues are not centered on the U.S. According to USDA estimates, अमेरिका. accounted for an average of 11.5 percent of world exports of rice for calendar years 2004 के माध्यम से 2007 और कम से पेश किया है 12.7 percent for 2008. यू.एस. exports will increase to 3.5 मिलियन मीट्रिक टन (एमएमटी) while world total exports decline to 27.5 एमएमटी. यू.एस. rice acreage in 2008 is expected to be 2.77 लाख एकड़, up slightly from 2.76 million acres in 2007, but small in comparison to U.S. acreage for corn at 86.0 दस लाख, soybeans at 74.8 million and wheat at 63.8 दस लाख. यू.एस. rice plantings were 3.38 million acres as recently as 2005, and the decline in acreage in 2006 preceded the price increases for corn that began in the fall of 2006. These changes in U.S. rice acreage and exports are not sufficient to drive fundamental changes in world markets.

As with most crops, China has a major role in rice production and use and a minor, and changing, role in rice trade. In the 2007-08 marketing year China accounted for 19.2 percent of world rice plantings and produced 129.5 MMT of rice, 30.4 percent of world production of 425.3 एमएमटी. Chinese consumption is expected to be 127.0 एमएमटी, 29.9 percent of world use of 424.2 एमएमटी. In recent years China has imported about 0.5 MMT of rice per year while exporting about 1 एमएमटी, down from 3 MMT per year as recently as the late 1990s. China has increased export taxes to stop new export sales.

The largest rice exporter is Thailand at 9.0 के लिए एमएमटी 2007/08, 32.7 दुनिया के निर्यात का प्रतिशत, down 0.5 से एमएमटी 2006/07 and up from 7.3 एमएमटी में 2004/05 तथा 2005/06. Thailand’s peak export year was 10.1 एमएमटी में 2003/04. Rice production in Thailand was a record 18.5 एमएमटी में 2007/08 and consumption is expected to be flat at 9.6 एमएमटी. Thailand continues to monitor export sales. Vietnam is the second largest rice exporter at 4.0 एमएमटी, 14.6 percent of the world total, और से नीचे 4.5 एमएमटी में 2006/07, 4.7 एमएमटी में 2005/06 तथा 5.2 एमएमटी में 2004/05, the peak of a 15 year export spurt that began at 1.0 एमएमटी में 1990/91 and coincided with an almost doubling of rice production. Domestic consumption in 2007/08 is expected to increase by 1.0 एमएमटी के लिए 19.7 एमएमटी. Vietnam has imposed export restrictions.

It may be surprising that the fourth largest rice exporter is India at 3.0 एमएमटी, 10.9 percent of the world total, और से नीचे 5.0 एमएमटी में 2006/07, 4.5 एमएमटी में 2005/06 तथा 4.7 एमएमटी में 2004/05. India exported 6.3 एमएमटी में 2001/02. India’s production of 94.0 एमएमटी में 2007/08 is record large and the third good crop in a row. Domestic consumption is also at a record of 90.4 MMT and up from 80.7 एमएमटी में 2004/05. The Indian government is battling consumer price increases that are averaging 7 percent per year and has announced export restrictions on rice. With concerns about food supplies and national elections in May 2009, India may not return to the export market.

Pakistan is expected to be the fifth largest exporter in 2007/08 पर 2.9 एमएमटी, 10.6 दुनिया के निर्यात का प्रतिशत, ऊपर से 2.4 एमएमटी में 2006/07, but down from 3.6 एमएमटी में 2005/06 तथा 3.0 एमएमटी में 2004/05. Before that, exports averaged about 2.0 प्रति वर्ष एमएमटी. Production for 2007/08 was 5.4 एमएमटी, ऊपर से 5.2 एमएमटी में 2006/07 and just off the record production of 5.5 एमएमटी में 2005/06. Domestic rice consumption is stable and stocks are adequate.

Compared to other major crops, relatively little rice, 6.5 प्रतिशत, is traded in global markets. That compares to 17.9 percent for wheat, flour and products, 12.4 percent for corn and 34.2 percent for soybeans. If China and India are removed, rice trade of the remaining countries is 11.6 percent of production. China and India produced 223.5 MMT of rice, 52.6 विश्व उत्पादन का प्रतिशत, and have 4-6 MMT of exports, 1.8-2.7 percent of their combined production and 14.7-21.8 percent of world trade. China and India are also expected to have 49.7 MMT of carryover stocks at the end of the current marketing year, 64.4% of the world total. The other major exporters will have total end of year stocks of only 4.7 एमएमटी.

With large populations, strong economic growth and internal food price pressures, China and India could quickly disappear from the rice export market. Thailand, Vietnam and the U.S. are more committed to export markets. What happens in Pakistan will be driven mostly by the availability of other food grains in the country. Enough uncertainties exist about export supplies to make importers rightly nervous about long-term trends.

These uncertainties are coming at a time of record large global production, but this occurred by increased acreage due to rising prices in recent years rather than by increasing yields on existing land. Yield increases are needed at a time of strong demand and fewer export participants. Some importers are already talking about creating incentives for more domestic production. The Philippines, the largest importer at 1.9 एमएमटी, has plans to encourage output. Indonesia has a record crop and is limiting exports to keep the supply available to avoid imports. The EU and Saudi Arabia lack natural resources and climate to increase production, but can afford to shift to other foods. Smaller suppliers with additional land area may fill some of the gap.

Most of the current price problems are related to exporters withdrawing supplies from the market and the general rise in all commodity prices. The longer-term structural question of who will produce rice for international markets will continue to influence market prices for years to come.