Fragrant Rice: Opportunity or Threat for the U.S. Rice Industry?

By Tanner Ehmke

September 15, 2021

Key Points

  • Since 1980, rice imports into the U.S. continue to set new records, driven in part by a fast-growing Asian American population and demand for quality fragrant, or aromatic, rice like jasmine and basmati. U.S. rice acreage, meanwhile, has remained stagnant amidst this growth in demand.
  • Jasmine rice from Thailand, also known as hom mali, is the primary rice imported into the U.S., and is typically sold at double to triple the price of traditional long-grain rice from the U.S.
  • U.S.-grown fragrant rice comprises less than a 5% market share of this fast-growing specialty rice market out of Asia. If all fragrant U.S. rice imports were grown solely in the U.S., it would take an acreage the size of the rice crop in Texas or Missouri in 2021.
  • With U.S. rice exports expected to remain stagnant in the years ahead due to Asian rice price supports and quality issues with U.S. rice hybrids, the growth opportunity for the U.S. rice industry lies with rising domestic consumption of fragrant rice.
  • With demand for fragrant rice expected to follow a rising Asian American population, capturing market share could transform the U.S. rice industry. But it will require a commitment to adjusting the supply chain and investing in seed genetics, milling assets, and consumer marketing.

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