China Emerges as the Largest Rice Importer in the World

Rice April 19, 2018
Blog Blog  /  Agriculture  /  Rice
Author: Anna Sergeeva
Market Analyst

IndexBox has just published a new report "World: Rice - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025". Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

In 2016, Rice Consumption Reached Its Maximum Level

Global rice consumption amounted to 518M tonnes in 2016 (in terms of milled rice weight), posting modest but robust gains from 2007-2016. The total consumption volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.4%. Over the period under review, the global rice consumption reached its maximum volume in 2016, and is likely to continue its growth in the immediate term due to Asian population growth.

In 2016, the countries with the highest consumption were China (29% based on tonnes), India (19%) and Indonesia (11%), together comprising 59% of total consumption. They were followed by India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Brazil and Japan.

From 2007 to 2016, the most notable growth rates of rice consumption among the main consuming countries was attained by Indonesia (+3.0% per year from 2007 to 2016), Vietnam (+2.9% per year) and Bangladesh (+1.7% per year), while the other global leaders indicated relatively stable consumption trend pattern.

The highest levels of rice per capita consumption was registered in Myanmar (306 kg per year), Vietnam (285 kg per year), Thailand (233 kg per year), Bangladesh (229 kg per year) and Indonesia (210 kg per year), while the average per capita consumption of rice was estimated at 72 kg/year in 2016.

Consumption of Rice Is Expected to Overcome 570M Tonnes by the End of 2025

Rice is a traditional staple food in many countries of the world, especially in Asia, therefore rice consumption is determined by the population needs in food. Consequently, the world consumption of rice is not subject to strong fluctuations. In the future, it is expected that due to sustainable growth in population and development of agricultural practices, which impove rice yields and strengthen rice supply, market performance is to continue its mild upward trend. Rice consumption is to grow with an anticipated CAGR of +1.1% for the nine-year period from 2016 to 2025, which is expected to lead the market to a volume of 570M tonnes by the end of 2025.

China and India Remained the Leading Rice Producers

Global rice production amounted to 527M in 2016 (in terms of milled rice weight). Overall, the rice supply pursued a stable growth from 2007 to 2016.

The countries with the highest levels of production in 2016 were China (148M tonnes) and India (110M tonnes), together accounting for 59% of rice supply. They were followed by Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Brazil and Japan, which all lagged somewhat behind.

India, Thailand and Vietnam Were the Main Rice Exporters

In 2016, the volume of global exports totaled 35.6M tonnes (this figure refers to a sum of semi-milled or wholly milled rice broken rice and husked (brown) rice), which was 12% less than the year before. Hovewer, from 2007 to 2016, the global rice exports indicated a pronounced growth, with a CAGR of +1.9%. In 2016, the value of global rice exports totaled $18.1B, which was -17% less than the year before. The annual growth rate of rice exports was +3.3% per year from 2007 to 2015. 

India (28%), Thailand (18%) and Vietnam (17%) were the main suppliers of rice in the world, together made up 63% of global rice exports. Among these countries, India (+5.2% per year) and Vietnam (+2.9% per year) exports steady increased over the period under review, while Thailand milled rice exports dropped by -3.9% from 2007 to 2016. The share of India (+7 percentage points) significantly strengthened its position in the global rice exports, while the share of Thailand (-12 percentage points) decreased significantly. 

China Emerged as the Largest Rice Importer in the World

The volume of global rice imports totaled 26.7M tonnes in 2016 (in terms of milled rice weight). Imports dynamics was generally in line with exports: these trade flows globally complement each other. From 2007 to 2016, global rice imports remained relatively stable, however, indicating some noticable fluctuations in certain years. In 2016, global rice imports stood at $15.1B in value terms. From 2007 to 2016, the value of global rice imports increased with an average annual rate of +1.1%. 

China (13% of global imports in 2016) was the key rice importer in the world. Except China, the main importers of rice were Indonesia (5%), the United Arab Emirates (4%), Benin (4%) and Saudi Arabia (4%), all this countries together made up 17% share of global rice imports in 2016. China had the highest growth rates of imports, which accounted for +25.7% per year from 2007-2016. The other countries had more moderate growth rates over the same period: Benin (+6.6% per year) and the United Arab Emirates (+1.9% per year). 

While the share of China rice imports (+11 percentage points) increased significantly, the shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Do you want to know more about global rice market? Get the latest trends and insight from our report. It includes a wide range of statistics on

  • rice market share
  • rice prices
  • rice industry
  • rice sales
  • rice import
  • rice export
  • rice market forecast
  • rice price forecast
  • key rice producers

Source: World: Rice - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025