How the pandemic made Italy’s rice grow

Italy is still the top rice producing country in Europe, both in quantity and quality

The rice market overheated with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. After a substantially stable start early this year, during the first weeks of the Covid-19 health emergency there was an increase in sales in large-scale distribution that caused a sharp rise in wholesale prices in the price lists of the Italian Chambers of Commerce and the Italian stock exchanges. The trend weakened in the second half of April.

Click here to discover the authentic Italian rice on platform

The risotto varieties (Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, etc.), which were most in demand by consumers during the first phase of the emergency, have recorded the highest increases. Between the beginning of March and the end of April, the price of Carnaroli variety grew by about 20%. Even more so, Arborio and Roma grew by 30%. Baldo grew as well, although less (+13.5%). Among the other varieties, the prices of Indica paddy rice (characterized by narrow, long and pointed grains like Basmati) grew by about +20%.

218,000 hectares of land in Italy are dedicated to rice cultivation


In addition to the coronavirus emergency, increases in prices and demand are due to the international scenario. High quotations, due to export restrictions in Vietnam and the drought that has affected important producer countries such as Thailand, are a decisive part of the problem.

Italy produces 50% of the rice grown in Europe

Italy is the top rice producing country in Europe. In 2018 the dedicated areas (although reduced by 5% compared to the previous year) reached 218 thousand hectares, cultivated by almost 4 thousand companies. With more than 200 registered varieties, Italy can boast the leadership in the sector in Europe ensuring more than 50% of total European rice production.

Italy can boast 200 different varieties: that makes the difference with the rest of the world


Italian rice distinguishes itself from the products grown in the rest of the world. And this thanks to typical and highly appreciated varieties such as Carnaroli, Arborio, Vialone Nano, S. Andrea and Baldo. Excellent productions, enhanced by PDO and PGI denominations that recognize the specificity of the territories of origin, such as Baraggia Biellese and Vercelli (PDO), or the typical geographical areas of Carnaroli Pavese, Vialone Nano Veronese, and rice of the Po Delta PGI. In the last five years, the market share of European rice has been reduced from 61% to 29%, and the dedicated areas almost from 40% due to unfair competition imports from Cambodia and Myanmar (increased from 27,000 to 300,000 tons) until Europe has restored tariffs at the end of 2018.

An important result was achieved with the opening of the Chinese market to Italian varieties. “Italian rice is appreciated all over the world. This recognition from China sends a message of trust and encouragement to the many rice growers and Italian companies committed to ensuring the supply of healthy and high quality food”, comments the Italian Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova.

© All rights reserved