US rice sales to Haiti plunge amid political crisis and historically high prices

The US rice industry is watching with growing apprehension as the crisis in Haiti continues to worsen, threatening US market share in this key destination.

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Social unrest and gang violence have been a growing problem in Haiti in recent years. However, the assassination of the country’s president, Jovenel Moise, in July 2021 and the ongoing blockade of the country’s main fuel terminal by armed gangs have made the problem particularly acute.

Southern US milled rice exporters have expressed growing concern about the state of this staple US rice market. It is not uncommon for ships loaded with American rice to be forced to wait outside Port-au-Prince due to the deterioration of the situation in recent months. Exporters even say that it is difficult to convince shipowners to go to the besieged country. Even if they are convinced, the transport costs are greatly inflated because of the risks.

Against this backdrop, U.S. exports of milled rice to the Caribbean nation are down and southern U.S. millers are growing concerned. “If the port and the infrastructure can be stabilized from a security and logistical point of view over the next month, we could see a number of contracts delivered and the backlog reduced fairly quickly,” a source said. American industry.

“If the situation continues, we would more likely see longer-term impacts in the US market, unless another large market for milled rice opens up,” the source added.

Haiti is the second-largest market for rice exports from the southern United States behind Mexico, and the largest for long-grain milled rice products. In the 2021-22 marketing year (August-July), Haiti accounted for 62% of the 685,300 tons of long-grain milled rice exported from the United States, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture. The latest USDA data shows that Haiti accounts for just 22% of long-grain milled rice export commitments so far in 2022-23.

The 52,799 tonnes of milled rice committed to Haiti so far in 2022-23 is 48% less than the 101,160 tonnes committed so far in 2021-22. With domestic U.S. rice prices remaining firm for some time and the U.S. experiencing a highly unusual second straight year of contracting production, millers are concerned about the impact that lower Haitian demand could have on prices.

However, insecurity in Haiti is not the only reason for the drop in sales. Due to the exceptionally poor harvest and strong domestic demand, US milled rice prices are at an all-time high. Platts’ valuation of US #2.4% off-white rice was $685/mt FOB NOLA bulk on November 1, up from $560/mt a year earlier, making it the long-grain white rice product the most expensive available in the world market.

Meanwhile, the Haitian gourde is near an all-time low against the dollar. It’s no surprise that importers from Haiti – classified by the UN as one of the world’s least developed countries – are looking elsewhere for their rice needs. In September, Uruguay exported 13,471 tons to Haiti, according to customs data. This is the first time that Uruguay has shipped a significant volume to the country since January 2020. While it was rumored that the shipment had been redirected to another country due to the crisis, a major Uruguayan exporter confirmed to S&P Global Commodity Insights that “he finally went to Haiti.


A major trader said Uruguay’s prices are still viable for the Haitian market, compared to US prices. However, again, freight remains a stumbling block. Haitian rice importers typically take shipments of around 15,000 tons and ships carrying that volume rarely operate out of Montevideo, the source said.

However, since the United States enjoys no particular tariff advantage over other countries, the preeminent position of the United States in the supply of rice to Haiti is undeniably threatened. In addition to Uruguay, a US supplier reported Pakistani rice being shipped to Haiti. While historically high US prices alone would make importers think twice about US rice, the deteriorating socio-economic situation in Haiti makes finding the most competitively priced rice an even higher priority.

“‘Concerned’ may be too strong a word,” said one of the country’s top US suppliers. “Aware, yes, and if this continues and doesn’t resolve in the next 6 months, then yes, I will be very worried.”

. sales rice American Haiti plunge in context crisis politics price historically high

. rice sales Haiti plunge political crisis historically high prices

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