U.S. rice mills shipped 10.8 billion pounds of rice to domestic and export markets, according to a USA Rice Federation report which tracks shipments and consumption of U.S. milled rice from August 2008 to July 2009.

American consumption of rice increased to 26 pounds per capita, a 1-pound increase compared to last year, with most of the growth coming from domestically grown rice.

Imports declined 19 percent from the record level reported in the 2007-2008 milling year. A significant reduction in imports from China accounted for 80 percent of the drop, reflecting a change in Chinese government rice exports policies. USDA projects imports will rebound in 2009-2010, increasing by as much as 9 percent.

Additional highlights from the report include:

• Sixty percent of rice milled within the U.S. was distributed domestically; 40 percent was exported.

• Shipments to domestic retail stores increased by 9 percent, the only major domestic market segment showing growth.

• Eighty-five percent of rice consumed domestically was American grown; 15 percent was imported.

• Six billion pounds of rice were shipped domestically: 58 percent went towards direct food use and 42 percent towards pet food, processed food, beer and sake.

• The largest domestic market segments for rice shipments for direct food use included retail stores at 33 percent, ethnic distributors at 23 percent and foodservice at 17 percent.

A full copy of the report can be obtained at www.usarice.com/reports.