A Crowley rice mill will soon be exporting products to China.
Supreme Rice’s Crowley and Mermentau locations are among the 32 U.S. rice facilities and five Louisiana facilities that were approved last month to export rice to China.
The company’s CEO says it’s been 20 years of work and meeting harsh protocols imposed by the Chinese government.
“Every year when we have our rice meetings, it’s like, ‘What’s going on with China?’ And, we’ve finally gotten past the last hurdle, which is getting the photosanitary protocol approved, so now we can focus on trying to sell rice in China rather than getting approved to sell rice in China,” said CEO Bobby Hanks.
China imports roughly five million tons of rice annually, mostly from other Asian countries.
Hanks says opening up this new market can bring in more business for Louisiana farmers.
“Any time you open up a new market, it provides opportunity for growth, so it can be growth in agricultural jobs, meaning more acres planted. It can be growth in milling jobs. Any time you open up a new market, it’s beneficial for the whole community,” he said.
Although being cleared for export is a major milestone, Hanks says there are still some hurdles to overcome since China still has a 25% tariff on American imports.
“Once the trade deal is finished, I think that’s when we’ll have the opportunity. Right now, there’s still tariffs on U.S. rice going into China, so until those tariffs are removed, it’s going to be a little challenging for us,” said the CEO.
Hanks says ultimately the goal is for Chinese shoppers to see their brand in grocery stores.
“They’re probably going to buy more of the bigger bags, but where we hope to have more success is in our small package in the retail market because once we hit there, we get straight to the consumers,” he said.