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“4 Things you should know before importing rice to Africa”

Importing rice to Africa can be a profitable business for rice wholesalers and rice retailers. That is due to the high demand of rice in west-African and central-African countries.

Africa is the second largest importer of rice among the seven continents, with Benin and Nigeria leading in terms of rice consumption.

Before venturing into the rice business, there are some things to know about rice procurement that are essential to make the most out of each one of your rice import operations :

  1. Rice types :

    Rice comes in all shapes, sizes and colors.

    However, it is recommended to focus on the three varieties of rice that are prominent among African populations. These are White Rice, Parboiled Rice, and Jasmine Rice.

    White Rice is the most common type of rice in Africa. It is basically rice grains that have been processed until their husk, bran and germ have been eliminated, leaving the rice seeds in a bright white aspect.

    The downside to this milling and polishing process is that it strips the rice from important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Hence the relevance of the enriched white rice variety which compensates this lack of nutrients in the regular white rice variety.

    Parboiled Rice (sometimes called Yellow Rice) is rice that has undergone the process of partly boiling in water while still in its husk. This process enhances the properties of rice grains resulting in a rice variety that is easier to cook, firm, and less sticky.

    Jasmine Rice is typically grown in Thailand. It is known for releasing a fragrant smell that suggests notes of popcorn and Pandan when cooked. Jasmine Rice is a long grain with a starchy texture. This makes it suitable for recipes that require a combination of floral aromas with a soft and sticky texture. Jasmine rice is commonly referred to as Thai Hom Mali Rice.

  2. Grain Size :

    Rice comes in 3 different sizes depending on its grain length: Long-grain rice, Medium-grain rice and Short-grain rice.

    Long-grain rice is the most commonly consumed rice in West-Africa. It is easily recognizable by its thin and long body. When cooked, Long-grain rice holds on to its shape superbly so it’s suitable for making most dishes but it works best for salads and as accompaniment for meats and vegetables.

    Medium-grain rice is more compact and thicker than the previous variety. It comes out soft and moist when cooked. Thus it is best suited for making sauced dishes such as risottos and paellas.

    Short-grain rice is a thick and small variety that yields the softest and stickiest texture of the three varieties. It is mostly used in Japanese recipes such as Sushi or for making desserts like “arroz con leche”, the Mexican rice pudding.

  3. Breakage :

    During the process of harvesting, milling and transporting, some grains of rice get damaged in the process, resulting in a portion of rice that becomes broken.

    That portion of broken rice is usually expressed in percentage. The higher the percentage, the largest the portion of broken rice there is in the final product.

    These percentages vary between 0% which means that every kernel of rice is whole and 100% which means the opposite.

    As a general rule of thumb, the higher the percentage of broken rice kernels, the cheapest is the price. This does not mean that broken rice is of poor quality. In fact, many African recipes call for broken rice, such as the Senegalese Thieboudienne rice.

  4. Logistics :

    Rice is typically shipped in 20 foot containers.

    A 20 foot container carries between 21 and 25 metric tons of rice, depending on the packing.

    There are plenty of options when it comes to packing of Rice.

    Rice comes in 50 kg, 25kg, 10kg or 5 kg bags. Even Smaller packaging sizes can also be available.

    Generally, the smaller the packaging the higher becomes the price per ton. The difference between a 50kg packaging and a 1kg packaging can be as high as 70 Dollars per metric ton.

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