Hybrid rice producer SL Agritech Corp. has completed a shipment of premium rice to Los Angeles and New York in the United States as well as to the island nation of Micronesia, indicating a growing interest in the Philippines’ grains exports.
Dona Lim, SLAC assistant vice president for Operations, said that the company has shipped a total of 40 metric tons of Dona Maria premium rice with the help of its New York-based partners United Food of Asia Ltd. and trader Triple A.
Of the total export volume, about half, or 20 MT went to Los Angeles.
“This new round of shipments indicate a growing interest in the country’s exported rice as overseas Filipino workers, along with other rice eaters that look for high quality rice, are increasingly becoming aware of the country’s export product,” Lim said.
“Thailand and Vietnam are really the ones more known when it comes to rice exports. It’s been two decades since OFWs have stayed abroad, but some of them still need to know that we export high-quality rice,” said Lim.
A known bottleneck to global awareness regarding Philippines’ rice is the fact that Thailand and Vietnam rice has lower production costs. On top of this, both governments subsidizes their rice farmers.
Lim added that the Philippines could hardly compete price-wise due to higher production costs, although initial government efforts have been successful in producing rice at lower cost.
“The quality and superiority of our rice is not the same as Vietnam’s. But Vietnam rice is only at around $1 per kilo compared to $1.8 per kilo for the Philippine rice,” Lim said.
SLAC is known for its Dona Maria premium brown and white rice – Miponica for sticky rice used in sushi, and the Jasponica for the aromatic Jasmine-Japonica rice type.
Philippines’ rice broke ground in the international market in 2013 when the Department of Agriculture (DA) allowed the export of niche premium quality fancy rice through a special export permit.
The DA facilitated shipments of various Filipino rice brands, including 35 MT to Dubai, 15 MT to Kuwait and Hong Kong, and 11.55 MT to Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, and the Netherlands.
In 2013, Manila’s total premium rice exports reached 400 MT, consisting mainly of Dona Maria rice and other fancy rice. Another Filipino supplier was the Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative, which then exported 15 MT of organic black rice from Cotabato.
The government for decades has banned the export of ordinary rice in light of Philippines’ net rice import status.
For its long-term plan, SLAC expects the distribution of Dona Maria rice reach other Asian and Middle East markets, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China, and Indonesia.