SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — South Korea’s rice production is forecast to remain unchanged while demand ticks up, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA’s rice production estimate remains unchanged at 3.5 million tonnes for the 2020 marketing year while demand increased 1.7% to 4.65 million tonnes.

Rice imports for the 2020-21 marketing year are forecast to be 500,000 tonnes, a slight increase from 465,609 tonnes in the same period a year ago.

Despite an unchanged production estimate, the USDA noted a rice price increase by 14% to 20% from October through December due to lowered domestic rice production. To curb rising prices, South Korea released 370,000 tonnes of government-held rice stock.

The USDA anticipates South Korea’s rice ending stocks in the 2020-21 marketing year to be 1.1 million tonnes by the end of October 2021.