Rice is a mainstay in the Turkish diet, and according to industry sources, the Turkish rice industry is supportive of the new amendment. The industry believes the higher threshold will improve recent problems the nation has had with blending and mislabeling of rice, according to the FAS report.
“With this realistic threshold, the government can now crack down on the problem of blending of cheaper rice varieties because they can sort out the difference between unintentional blending, which can happen during production, transport, and processing at under 5%, and purposeful blending and mislabeling of varieties/qualities/origins, which has become an issue,” the FAS said.
Even with the zero tolerance threshold in place, the FAS report noted some rice companies in Turkey have been blending different varieties to have better prices. But different cooking and flavor characteristics of different types and qualities of rice has led to consistency and quality problems, the agency noted.
“Eventually, after consumers have experienced this inconsistency in the rice they have been purchasing, it has led to a frustration and mistrust of rice, which eventually is decreasing demand,” the FAS noted.
The zero tolerance rule also has made it difficult for government inspectors to identify and punish companies that are purposefully blending in lower price rice varieties and labeling them as 100% higher price varieties, the FAS noted.
“With the new 5% threshold proposed rule, MinFAL inspectors can more easily test for and punish the entities that are purposefully blending and mislabeling rice, and will be able to distinguish them from companies that have normal low percentages of accidental blending from transport or processing,” the FAS said.
Traditionally, Turkey produces about 500,000 tonnes of rice a year and imports between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes of rice, milled equivalent, according to the FAS. During the past five years, the United States has exported between $45 million and $75 million of rice per year to Turkey, increasing to $140 million in 2014.The comment period on the proposed amendment closed Aug. 28, and the MinFAL now will evaluate the comments. A final decision on the amendment is expected by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.