China is by far the largest rice producer and consumer in the world. The magnitude of the rice market in China is hard to exaggerate and the potential role of China in the global rice system is immense. Approximately one-third of all the rice in the world is produced and consumed in China. Given its size we would expect the market for rice in China to be complex. However, the absolute and relative size of the China market for rice does not fully capture the complexity. In a real sense, several markets for rice coexist simultaneously in China. These markets are differentiated by type, quality, location and customer focus. Imports and exports add further dimensions. In addition, the agricultural and food situation in China is changing rapidly, so what was true a few years ago must be reevaluated and the present situation cannot be simply projected into the future.
In the spring of 2001, the USA Rice Federation formulated a set of insightful questions around which we have organized a detailed report that considers many of the complexities related to the rice market in China. As a brief guide to the main findings of our study, this summary provides brief responses to each of the "Key Research Questions" posed by USA Rice (Which have been numbered here for convenience of reference.)