Rice is one of the most protected foods available in the world today. Countries which consume high quantities of rice often protected their domestic industry from international markets. That creates several barriers to entry for anyone wishing to get involved with rice processing.
There are significant tariffs that are in place around the world which deal with the trade of rice produced. Tariff-rate quotas are also in place. That creates a major distortion in the global market for rice. There are even non-tariff quotas in place with this industry.
Processing rice is a fairly straight-forward process. The grains of rice must be dried until they contain a moisture content level of 22% or lower. Heated air can be used, though the traditional method uses sunshine and racks in the fields.
Then the rice grains must be hulled. Mills perform this task now. In the past, the rice was hulled by rolling the grains between rough stones. Then the grains are shelled, milled again to prevent spoilage, then enriched to provide nutrients.
Please note: rice processing statistics are very localized, so discrepancies in reporting years can be quite extensive. The latest international data on rice processing was released in 2010..
Important Rice Processing Industry Statistics
#1. There were 672 million tons of rice harvested in the world in 2010 that was sent to the rice processing industry. (FAO Statistics Division)
#2. Developing nations consume much more rice than the developed world. In 2010, the average rice consumption in the developing world was above 115kg per person. In the developed world, it was just over 22kg per person. (FAO Statistics Division)
#3. Bangladesh is one of the largest markets for the rice processing industry. In 2016, the average person consumed 196kg of rice annually. (University of Arkansas)
#4. Rice provides up to 70% of the caloric intake for individuals living in Bangladesh, with three seasons of rice production available. (Emerging Credit Rating Ltd)
#5. In 2005, there were about 500 rice mills, both automatic and semi-automatic, working with 17,000 husking mills to provide processing operations to the domestic industry in Bangladesh. (Emerging Credit Rating Ltd)
#6. More than 350 operators have their own brand of rice available for sale in Bangladesh thanks to the prevalence of the rice processing industry. About 60% of the crop that reaches the market is processed through local facilities. (The Daily Star)
#7. The production of milled rice reached a record level in 2015 within Bangladesh, with over 34.7 million tons of rice processed. (Rice Outlook)
#8. About 50% of the world’s rice production is processed through parboiling, which requires a large quantity of water for steaming and soaking the rice grains. (Research Gate)
#9. In the United States, the total value of rice production in 2016 was $2.38 billion. The year of highest value for the U.S. market was 2008, when it was valued at $3.06 billion. (Statista)
#10. Under the ideal milling process, about 20% of the final product will be rice hull or husk. Then about 12% will be bran, depending upon the milling degree, with a minimum of 8% bran desired. The remainder then becomes white or milled rice, depending upon the variety being processed. (Rice Knowledge Bank)
#11. Most varieties of rice are composed of about 20% husk or hull, with 11% being a bran layer. (Rice Knowledge Bank)
#12. About 200,000 tons of rice husk is produced for every 1 million tons of paddy rice that is harvested using modern methods. (Sun Rice)
#13. Arkansas and California are the two largest producers of rice products in the United States. With about 5 billion pounds of rice produced in 2013, California provided about 20% of the U.S. supply of rice. (California Rice Commission)
#14. The average acre of rice will produce about 8,000 pounds for processing. (California Rice Commission)
#15. There are more than 120,000 different varieties of rice that may be suitable for processing. Some varieties have plants which may grow up to 10 feet in height. (Facts and Details)
#16. In Asia, more than 2 billion people on rice to provide a minimum of 60% of their daily calories from food consumption. (Facts and Details)
#17. Most of the rice that is grown in the world today is a wetland variety that requires irrigated paddies. 55% of the global rice supply is grown this way. Another 25% of the global rice crop that is processed comes from rainfed rice paddies. (Facts and Details)
#18. Rice grains are 80% starch, with various vitamins and minerals making up the remainder of the food product. If amylose starch contents are low, then the rice is soft and sticky. Starch levels up to 30% in the final product makes the grains harder and fluffy instead. (Facts and Details)
#19. Growing rice means up to 1,000 people can be fully supported on one square mile of croplands without a threat to the croplands. Some rice varieties grow in water that is 16 feet deep. (Facts and Details)
#20. Leaf blight is one of the biggest dangers to the world’s rice crop at the moment. In Africa and Asia, up to 10% of the global harvest is decimated each year because of this disease. (Facts and Details)
#21. There are currently 161.1 million hectares of croplands globally which are dedicated to the production of rice. That generated a world production volume of milled rice that stands at 484.1 million tons. (Statista)
#22. In China, the production volume of rice stood at 210 million metric tons in 2017. (Statista)
Rice Processing Industry Trends and Analysis
As long as rice is a primary staple of many diets, there will be large demands placed on the rice processing industry. Unless the structure of the world’s markets changes in the future, expect the industry to be fragmented, with each domestic market focusing on their own issues of supply and demand to process the millions of tons of rice which come through.
Rural families still account for up to 40% of the processing activities in some countries, especially where milling costs are high. These families still focus on the traditional methods of hulling and shelling rice, which is a time-consuming process that reduces the overall value of the industry.
If the current demand for rice continues as human populations rice, production levels must increase by at least 20% by 2025 to keep up with demand levels.
As technologies are introduced into emerging markets, more rice could be processed each year. That means more food could be available to the global market. That may cause the import and export restrictions to be reconsidered. Until then, expect the rice processing industry to remain fragmented through at least 2028.