Almost half of the world’s 7 billion people have rice as the basis of their diet and another large number of the planet’s population consumes this cereal frequently. Of all cereals, rice is the one most used in human food with little transformation.
Most of the population that has rice as the basis of their diet lives in Asia, a continent where 90% of the 170 million hectares planted (and also planted) for rice in the world are concentrated.
Paddy rice is called the most harvested cereal. At the global level, rice production in the 2014 season showed a decline of 0.5% due to poor performance in some of the major producing countries, especially in Asia and Oceania.
In total, world production amounted to 741.3 million tonnes of paddy rice, equivalent to 494 million tonnes of milled rice. China, with about 280 million tonnes of paddy rice in 2014, is the world’s leading producer country, followed by India (154.6 million tonnes), Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Brazil, Japan and the United States , Whose production is around 10 million tons of which approximately 50% is destined for export. In 2014 global exports increased and international prices were maintained.
On the other hand, in the European Union the cultivation concentrates mainly in eight countries between which Italy represents near 50% and Spain 25%. Production in 2014 was slightly more than 2.8 million tons of paddy rice, down from the previous year’s production. Japonica is the most produced rice variety with almost 95% of the total. About two thirds of the rice consumed by European citizens is grown in the European Union. To supply the demand, rice of different varieties is imported into the EU, mainly long grain Indica rice, such as basmati from India and Pakistan. A small amount of European rice – especially japonica – is exported. Although overall rice production in the European Union has remained stable in recent years, imports have become more important. The current level of rice production in the EU is not sufficient to meet the growing demand, which explains why the EU is one of the main importers of rice in the world. In 2014 the EU imported 1.4 million tonnes of paddy rice from third countries and exported only 0.2 million tonnes, according to FAO data.
In Spain, the area devoted to rice cultivation in 2014 stood at 110,200 hectares (down from the previous season) and production in 863,600 tonnes of paddy rice (approximately 640,000 tonnes of grain), a slightly lower volume than that produced In the previous year. Rice cultivation in Spain is concentrated in Andalusia, Extremadura, Valencian Community, Catalonia and Aragon, although small areas are also cultivated in Navarre, Murcia, La Mancha, La Rioja and the Balearic Islands. Of all the rice grown in Spain in 2014, the japonic type, better known as round rice, represented 51%, while the indica type (long rice) accounted for 49%. It is noteworthy that in recent years japonica has been losing weight in favor of the indica and also that yields per hectare have increased in the last decade. On the other hand, the prices received by rice growers stood at 28.33 euros / 100 kg, a figure higher by almost one euro at the price of 2013. As for foreign trade, in 2014 the balance of the trade balance was New positive In volume, imports of rice amounted to 106,806 tonnes, some 4,000 more than a year earlier, while exports amounted to 265,575 tonnes, some 10,000 less than in 2013, of which the bulk went to the Community countries.


In the Spanish sector of packaging and marketing companies of rice there has been an important process of modernization that has generated a significant concentration and internationalization. The sector leader is a Is part of a large multinational group of Spanish origin and packs about 310,000 tonnes, of which 81,000 Are directed to the national market. Its sales exceed 3,000 million euros per year, it has 30 different brands of rice In Spain and another 7 in the European Union. The second operator reaches 147,000 tonnes, of which 63,000 tonnes are sold in Spain, while the next three pack between 59,000 and 55,000 tonnes, although their sales in the Our country vary between 53,000 and 26,500 tons.
Distribution brands are very important in the rice markets. Thus, they control 59.7% of all volume sales of round rice and 42% in value. In the case of long rice, these percentages are 92.5% and 88.1%, respectively, while in the case of rice, the rice is reduced to 43.5% by volume and 34.6% by value. The first marquista offer in round rice reaches up to 18% in volume and 27.8% in value. As far as long rice is concerned, the most important offer with its own brand stands at only 2.2% and 4.2%. Finally, in the case of steamed rice, the main offer with its own brand stands at 51.4% of the total in volume and 61.6% in value. Within a mature market, the possibilities of growth are concentrated in the presentation of new offers, generally of high added value.


Foreign trade in rice has traditionally been very favorable to our country, since exports have been, and continue to be, much higher than imports. Thus, in 2014, 242,500 tonnes of rice were exported, compared with imports of just over 101,520 tonnes. However, it should be noted that the trend in recent years shows a decline in exports (-6% in the last year), while imports increased (+ 13% in 2014). These imports have prices below the cost of production in our country and can modify the current situation of Spain as a rice exporting power. Suppliers whose imports have grown the most have been Cambodia and Myanmar, although the leaders of this foreign trade are Thailand and Pakistan, followed by India. In the case of exports, the most important destination markets are Belgium, United Kingdom, Turkey , Holland and Bulgaria. The sector leader of the Spanish rice market appears as the first rice trader in the world. Some of the leading companies in the sector have implemented important internationalization processes to increase their business levels.


The first denomination of origin of rice in Europe was granted to the rice of Calasparra grown in the region of Murcia. Also protected by a D.O. Is the rice that is cultivated in the basin of the river Júcar and in the Albufera. Here are the varieties Senia, Bahia and Bomba.

About the author

Montse Gonzalez