Rice shipments to retailers up in 2008-09

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The retail grocery segment, including wholesale distributors and supercenters, received 12,150,022 cwts, or 19%, of domestic rice shipments in 2008-09, up 9% from a year earlier, while shipments to other major segments declined by as much as 19%, the USA Rice Federation said in its annual U.S. Rice Domestic Usage Report.

“In the comparison to the 2007-08 milling year, all major market segments with the exception of retail grocery saw declines in shipments, with foodservice remaining static,” the Federation said.

Shipments to the largest segment, industrial food processors, which includes foods processed for human consumption, beer, sake, pet food and other, totaled 27,241,387 cwts, or 42%, of total shipments, down 11% from the previous year. Ethnic distributors received 8,682,600 cwts, or 14%, of the total, also down 11% for the year. Repackers received 6,951,503 cwts, or 11%, of milled rice shipments, down 19%.

Shipments to the mainline food service segment totaled 6,511,160 cwts, comprising 10% of the total, up slightly from 2007-08. Warehouse clubs, the sixth major category, received 2,655,568 cwts, 4% of total shipments, which was down 4% from a year earlier. Three smaller segments — U.S. Department of Agriculture feeding programs, military and charitable donations — in total received only 408,205 cwts, less than 1%.

The annual survey, which focuses on domestic rice shipments, provides information on market trends to the rice industry. Participants included 23 companies with 35 active rice mills responsible for 87% of 2008-09 shipments, the USA Rice Federation said.

Survey respondents said total rice shipments in 2008-09 totaled 107,972,160 cwts, down 5% from a year earlier, of which 60% were domestic and 40% were exports. Domestic shipments of 64,600,445 cwts fell 8% from 2007-08. Rice imports in 2008-09 declined about 20% from the record high a year earlier.

“Record high crop prices in 2008 for U.S. producers led to reduced demand throughout the milling year,” the USA Rice Federation said.

Of the domestic total, 58% went into direct food use and 42% was shipped to food processors. White milled rice made up 71% of domestic shipments while specialty and other made up 29%.

The survey showed per capita consumption of rice (excluding pet food) at 26.1 lbs, up 0.6 lbs from a year earlier and slightly less than in 2001.

“Since 2000, growth in per capita rice consumption has been nominal,” the USA Rice Federation said.
When classified by type, all categories declined from 2007-08 except for brown rice, which was 4% of total shipments at 2,258,319 cwts, up 1%, and instant/pre-cooked, 3% of the total at 2,148,716, up 25%. Shipments of long-grain rice totaled 29,509,604 cwts, 46% of total domestic shipments, down 8% from a year earlier. Medium-grain shipments were 12,282,927 cwts, 19% of the total, down 4%; parboiled was 7,643,312 cwts, 12% of the total, down 5%, brokens/brewers were 7,159,193 cwts, 11% of the total, down 18%, rice flour was 1,573,809 cwts, 2% of the total, down 5%, short-grain was 575,396 cwts, 1% of the total, down 2%, and other was 1,449,168 cwts, 2% of the total and down 25%.

Within the major industrial food processors segment the growth rate has slowed dramatically, the Federation said. Rice usage in processed foods rose 8% in 2008-09, but use for beer fell 19% from 2007-08 and for pet food plunged 24%.

“This decline is a reaction to the record prices of 2007-08 and reflects the ability of the pet food industry and, to a lesser extent the brewing industry, to substitute less expensive cereal grains for rice in their products,” the Federation said.

Shipments to all market segments increased over a five-year period, except for industrial processors, which declined 1%. The largest percentage increase from 2005 to 2009 was to repackers, up 63%, followed by retail grocery, up 37%, mainline food service, up 35%, and ethnic distributors, up 6%. Shipments to warehouse clubs were unchanged.

Over a five-year period, most rice types showed significant growth, with brown rice shipments increasing the most on a percentage basis at 64%. Long-grain shipments rose 11% from 2005 to 2009, medium grain was up 18%, parboiled up 17%, instant/pre-cooked up 22%, short-grain and other each up 50% and flour unchanged. The only decrease during the period was broken/brewers, down 10%.

Rice shipment and use data for the current marketing year, which ends July 31, and especially for 2010-11, may change significantly if U.S.D.A. projections for a record large 2010 U.S. rice crop and sharply lower rough rice prices hold true.

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