A California producer has struck a deal to make the first-ever sale of U.S. rice to buyers in China.

Sun Valley Rice, based in Dunnigan, Calif., agreed to deliver 40 metric tons of medium-grain, Calrose rice, and expects to make additional sales, company CEO Ken LaGrande said in an interview Wednesday with Agri-Pulse. The value of the deal was not disclosed. 

It’s been about seven months since China officially opened its market to U.S. rice, ending 20 years of haggling over details such as phytosanitary protocols, but bureaucracy and Chinese tariffs have been blamed for delaying purchases. 

"This sale marks a turning point for the U.S. rice industry and its relationship with China as it is the first ever of U.S. rice to a private importer and is truly historic as it sets the stage for continued regular trade with China for U.S. grown rice." said USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward.  

Sun Valley reached the deal with Chinese buyers during the U.S.-sponsored World Rice Summit trade show in Guangzhou, China, according to USA Rice. The summit's funding came from USDA’s new Agricultural Trade Promotion program, a segment of the Trump administration's trade assistance package. 

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to blaze this trail of trading history - American rice in China,” LaGrande said.

Sun Valley and the Chinese buyer – privately owned Shenzen Yintuo – worked out a deal that allowed the purchase despite the tariff now being levied by China as part of the ongoing trade war with the U.S., LaGrande said.

The Chinese buyers will be selling the U.S. rice to retailers and food service companies in China, LaGrande said.

“This  is not a one-off sale,” said LaGrande, who added he expects to make more sales soon to Shenzen Yintuo.

China consumes about 144 million tons of rice every year and is the world’s largest rice importing country. China imports about 5 million tons of rice, according to USDA data.

China represent a major opportunity for the U.S. rice sector, which relies heavily on trade. USA Rice says it will hold two more seminars in China this summer in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

For more news, go to Agri-Pulse.com.