Business & Real Estate

Sacramento-area rice company secures first U.S. contract to sell rice to China

A Sacramento-area rice producer is the first U.S. company to secure a contract to export rice into China after its government began permitting American rice imports late last year.

The Sun Valley Rice Co., based in Arbuckle in Colusa County, announced a contract to sell Calrose medium-grain rice to Shenzhen Yintuo, part of the Dragon Ocean Hing Group, a Chinese importer-exporter, according to a news release by Sun Valley Rice.

“Fifteen years of patience and hard work have paid off,” Sun Valley Rice CEO Ken LaGrande said in a prepared statement. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to blaze this trail of trading history – American rice in China. Our team has worked with incredible tenacity and diligence to reach this point.”

Reuters reported that China opened up its customs to U.S. rice as a gesture of goodwill after years of talks with the United States. Sun Valley Rice’s contract was for 40 tons of rice, according to Reuters.

Now, although the two countries are entangled in a trade war, Sun Valley Rice is selling rice to Shenzhen Yintuo in time for China’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Rice sold by Sun Valley Rice will be available for retail and food service distribution in China, according to the release.

“We chose Sun Valley Rice because when we first toured the U.S., we went to California and witnessed that Sun Valley Rice had clearly studied Asian cultures deeply (especially Japanese and Chinese),” said William Li, overseas director of Shenzhen Yintuo and vice president of the Dragon Ocean Hing Group, in a prepared statement.

Sun Valley Rice, founded in 2000, initiated talks with China on the California rice market in 2004, according to the release.

“It has been a long journey,” said Steve Vargas, senior vice president of global rice trading for Sun Valley Rice, in a prepared statement. “It has taken a great deal of effort on the part of Sun Valley Rice, as well as the USA Rice Federation, to gain access to the Chinese market.”

Sun Valley grows rice in Colusa, Glenn, Sacramento, Yuba, Sutter, Butte and Yolo counties and sells its product internationally.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that China is the world’s largest rice producer and consumer, while the U.S. produces less than 2% of the world’s rice.

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Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.