USA Rice conducted functional research in 2020 that covered six varieties of U.S. short, medium, and long grain rice, including Calhikari, Calmochi, and Calrose from California and Southern medium grain, long grain, and jasmine rice. The research was completed in August 2020. USA Rice shared the findings through personal visits to traders, emails and phone communications, an educational brochure and in-person at the 2021 Food Taipei show. Of specific interest to Taiwan customers, the findings demonstrated the quality of long grain and jasmine rated highly in cooking yields and sensory tests. This research resulted in an importer bringing in a few pallets of long grain jasmine using simultaneous buy sell (SBS) quota for customer trial in late 2020.
As a condition of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002, Taiwan agreed to import a total of 144,720 MT of rice (brown rice basis) each year, with a country-specific quota (CSQ) of 45 percent (64,634 MT) for the U.S. This CSQ is then divided into SBS quota (how private importers in Taiwan can purchase U.S. rice), and normal tenders, (purchased by the Taiwanese government).
With customer feedback that the rice quality was acceptable, a second importer began to import and sell long-grain varieties at retail in Taiwan, including both jasmine and regular long-grain rice. According to the two importers, the total import of long grain jasmine under the quota reached 1,200 tons in 2021, up from zero imports in previous years. One importer focused on the wholesale market, while the other mainly sold its imports through Southeast Asia specialty grocery stores.
In addition to quality, the incentive for importers bringing in U.S.-grown jasmine rice was because of the significant bid price gap between U.S. rice under CSQ and Asian rice imported through private tenders. For example, on March 1, 2022, bids for import quotas for U.S. rice under CSQ ranged from $28-32 per metric ton, while bids under private tenders for Thai jasmine ranged from $485-521 ton.