Rice is a grain that is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica and is the primary food for half the people in the world. Rice cultivation probably originated as early as 10,000 BC in Asia. Rice is grown at varying altitudes (sea level to about 3,000 meters), in varying climates (tropical to temperate), and on dry to flooded land. The growth duration of rice plants is 3-6 months, depending on variety and growing conditions. Rice is harvested by hand in developing countries or by combines in industrialized countries. Asian countries produce about 90% of rice grown worldwide. Rough rice futures and options are traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT).
Prices - Rough rice prices on the CBOT nearest futures chart at the beginning of 2007 were about $10.50 per hundred pounds. Prices held fairly steady until August and then rallied the rest of the year to about $14.00 per hundred pounds at the end of the year. The rally continued into early 2008 up to about $17.00 in February. Regarding cash prices, the average monthly price of rice received by farmers in the U.S. in the first 5 months of the 2007-08 marketing year (i.e., August through July 2008) rose by +10.1% yr/yr to $10.58 per hundred pounds (cwt.).
Supply - World rice production in the 2006-07 marketing year (latest data available) fell -0.5% to 617.988 million metric tons, down from the record high of 621.054 million metric tons in 2005-06. The world's largest rice producers were China with 30% of world production in 2006-07, India with 22% of world production, Indonesia with 8%, Bangladesh with 7%, Vietnam with 6%, and Thailand with 5%. U.S. production of rice in 2007-08 rose +2.3% yr/yr to 197.9 million cwt (hundred pounds), but still well below the 2004-05 record high of 232.4 million cwt.
Demand - World utilization of rice in 2006-07 (latest data available) rose +1.0% to a record high of 415.943 million metric tons. U.S. rice consumption in 2007-08 fell -1.6% yr/yr to 124.7 million cwt (hundred pounds) from last the 2006-07 record high of 126.7 million cwt (hundred pounds).
Trade - World exports of rice in 2006-07 (latest data available) rose +3.8% yr/yr to 29.142 million metric tons, which was a new record high. The world's largest rice exporters are Thailand with 30% of world exports, Vietnam with 17%, India with 15%, the U.S. with 11%, and Pakistan with 10%. U.S. rice imports in 2007-08 rose by +4.4% yr/yr to a new record high of 21.5 million cwt (hundred pounds). U.S. rice exports in 2006-7-08 rose by +17.2% yr/yr to 107.0 cwt, but still far below the record of 124.6 million cwt posted in 2002-03.