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Adding value to spanish exports


Spanish rice farmers, hanging by a thread (I)

Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez

The area used to grow rice in Spain has increased in the 2015/16 season to almost 110,000 ha (almost 48,600 ha of Indica rice, or 44.4%; almost 60,000 ha of Japonica rice, or 54.7%, and less than 1,000 ha of other varieties, or 0.9%), with a slight 1% decline compared with last year, and production is expected to total 884,000 tons, i.e. 2.4% more than last year, according to data highlighted at the rice conference held on November 4th members of the Ministry of Agriculture and representatives of farming and cooperative organizations.

The land allocated to rice has declined by around 10,000 ha since 2009, according to a seasonal analysis by the rice industry segment of Cooperativas Agro-Alimentarias. This year, 118,861 ha were sown. This figure peaked at 121,896 ha in 2010 and has declined gradually since then. Also this year, 13,000 fewer ha of this agro-industrial crop were sown, mainly in two regions, Aragón (-7,428 ha) and Extremadura (-5,348 ha), according to Cooperativas.

In view of CAP data, Andalusia is the region with the greatest area allocated to rice, with around 40,000 ha in the current season, i.e. 1.23% less; followed by Extremadura, with 24,518 ha, almost 2% less; Catalonia, with 20,716 ha (+0.75%); Valencia, with 15,056 ha (-0.8%); Aragón, with 5,862 ha (-9.4%); Navarre, with 2,281 ha (+26%) and Murcia-Albacete, with 529 ha (-2.5%).

Cooperativas estimates the rice-growing area to be almost 109,000 ha (-1%) and production of paddy rice to amount to 900,873 MT, a slightly smaller area and larger harvest than estimated by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (MAGRAMA), almost 6% more than in 2014/15, with an average yield of 8,270 kilos per ha and an increase of 12.61% compared with the previous harvest. Of that yield, 443,000 MT were Indica (long grain) rice, i.e. 49.3% of the total, and 457,000 MT were Japonica (round grain) rice, i.e. the remaining 50.7%. Total Spanish production of paddy rice yields around 540,000 MT of white rice.

Andalusia is home to 44% of rice production in Spain during the current harvest (393,780 MT), followed by Extremadura, with 20% of the total and 182,223 MT; Catalonia, with 155,370 MT (17%); Valencia, with 120,448 MT (13%); Aragón, with 33,707 MT (4%); Navarre, with 12,546 MT (2%) and Murcia/Albacete, with 2,800 tons.

In terms of types of rice, almost 70% of the total Indica yield is produced in Andalusia (304,780 MT); close to 28% comes from Extremadura (123,923 MT); another 2.77% is from Catalonia (12,274 MT); and the remaining 0.62% comes from Valencia (2,770 tons).

Production of Japonica rice is more diffuse, with the greatest yield coming from Catalonia, with 31.3% of the total (143,096 MT in 2015/16); Valencia, with 25.7% of the total (117,678 MT); Andalusia with 19.5% (89,000 MT); Extremadura, with 12.75% (58,300 MT); Aragón, with 7.4% (33,707 MT); Navarre, with 2.7% (12,546 MT) and Murcia/Albacete (2,800 tons).

One of the rice sector's main concerns is the progressive increase in rice imports in the EU. Spain is a net exporter and its trade balance is broadly positive. Average foreign trade in the 2009/10 and 2013/14 seasons yielded a positive balance of over 137,200 tons, due to imports of slightly less than 100,000 MT, compared with exports of close to 235,000 tons.

Production in Spain, therefore, amply covers domestic consumption, enables the sector to export more than 200,000 MT and has allowed non-EU countries to purchase close to 100,000 MT in recent years.

The rice producing sector will receive 12.2 million euros in subsidies associated with the new CAP which, according to provisional data, amounts to around €110/ha.

Rice consumption

Rice consumption in Spain has declined in recent years after an upswing between 2009 and 2013. According to recent data on food consumption by households until 2015 from MAGRAMA, the last rolling year saw a decline of 1%, from 174.2 at 172.5 million kilos. In terms of value, Spaniards spent around 248.2 million euros on rice between August 2014 and 2015, i.e. 1.3% less than in the previous year, while per capita consumption slipped by 3.8 kilos per person per year. This accounts for less than 0.3% of total market participation.

According to data for 2014, rice consumption fell by 3.4%, from 179.9 to 173.8 million kilos, valued at 248.8 million euros, i.e. a decline of 3%, and with per capita consumption of 3.9 kilos per person per year (4.1 kg in 2013), of which around two-thirds is Japonica, normal and steamed rice, which has declined, and Indica, which increased although it has stagnated in recent years. Moreover, consumption of pre-prepared rice dishes is on the rise, and accounts for between 20-25% of the total consumption of this food.

Households with more than five people are the main rice consumers, mainly those with children aged 6 to 15 , and also households without children (single adults, retired people over 65, adult childless couples, single-parent households) consume the most, whereas those with very small children, young childless couples, young people living on their own and couples with older children consume the least. Consumption is also greater in those households with lower income and lower in middle-class households.

Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Cantabria consume the most rice, while demand is lowest in Castile-La Mancha, Galicia and Navarre. Seventy-five percent of rice is purchased in supermarkets, while the remaining 25% is sold in hypermarkets (18%), specialized stores (2%), and other types of shops (4%).

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