USDA Outlook: U.S. rice exports forecast to drop 18% year-over-year to 91 million cwt. in 2011/2012, driven by decline in demand in Africa, Middle East

WASHINGTON , December 13, 2011 (press release) – The following article is excerpted from the December Rice Outlook published by the Economic Research Service of the USDA.

U.S. 2011/12 Milled Rice Exports Are Forecast To be the Lowest Since 1975/76

Total use of U.S. rice in 2011/12 remains projected at 218.0 million cwt, 13 percent below the year-earlier record. By class, long-grain total use is projected at 152.0 million cwt, almost 19 percent smaller than the year-earlier record. Medium/short-grain total use is forecast at a near-record 66.0 million cwt, 5 percent above a year earlier.

Total domestic and residual use of all-rice remains projected at 127.0 million cwt for 2011/12, almost 8 percent smaller than the year-earlier record. The decline is largely based on expectations of smaller losses in processing, handling, and transporting associated with a weaker crop. By class, long-grain domestic disappearance remains projected at 92.0 million cwt, 15 percent below the year-earlier record. Combined medium- and short-grain domestic disappearance remains projected at 35.0 million cwt, 19 percent larger than in 2010/11.

Total exports of U.S. rice in 2011/12 remain projected at 91.0 million cwt, more than 18 percent below 2010/11. By type, U.S. rough-rice exports remain projected at 34.0 million cwt, almost 3 percent below a year earlier, with South America accounting for most of the year-to-year decline. Mexico and Central America are the largest markets for U.S. rough-rice exports, taking almost exclusively long-grain from the South. U.S. milled rice exports (combined milled and brown rice exports on a rough basis) are projected at 57.0 million cwt, 26 percent smaller than a year earlier and the smallest U.S. milled-rice exports since 1975/76. Africa and the Middle East account for the bulk of the expected decline in U.S. milled-rice exports in 2011/12.

By class, U.S. long-grain exports remain projected at 60.0 million cwt, 23 percent below a year earlier. These will be the smallest U.S. long-grain exports since 1996/97. Sub- Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South America account for most of the expected decline in U.S. long-grain exports in 2011/12, mostly a result of greater competition. Combined medium- and short-grain exports are projected at 31.0 million cwt, 8 percent below a year earlier. The U.S. is expected to face much stronger competition from both Australia and Egypt in the Pacific and Middle East in 2011/12 than it did a year earlier.

U.S. ending stocks of all-rice in 2011/12 remain projected at 37.5 million cwt, 23 percent below a year earlier. The stocks-to-use ratio is calculated at 17.2 percent, down 19.4 percent in 2010/11. By class, the 2011/12 U.S. long-grain carryout is projected at 17.6 million cwt, more than 50 percent below a year earlier. The long-grain stocks-to-use ratio is calculated at 11.6 percent, down sharply from 19.1 percent in 2010/11.

The medium/short-grain carryout is projected at 17.2 million cwt, up 70 percent from a year earlier and the largest medium- and short-grain carryout since 1986/87. Ending stocks of this size are expected to pressure U.S. medium- and short-grain prices downward all year. The year-to-year increase is primarily due to much larger supplies and only a modest expansion in use.

The medium/short-grain stocks-to-use ratio is calculated at 26.1 percent, up substantially from 16.1 percent in 2010/11. Stocks of brokens, included in the total stocks estimate, are not reported by class.

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