Consumption patterns of wheat, corn, and rice in Ecuador are expected to increase in response to domestic population and economic growth.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: 13004
Grain and Feed Annual
Ecuador Wheat Corn Rice Production Consumption Exports
Imports Forecast 2013
Consumption patterns of wheat, corn, and rice in Ecuador are expected to increase in response to
domestic population and economic growth. The baking industry is dependent upon imported wheat
while the animal sector still depends on imported corn, albeit to a lesser extent. Wheat imports are
expected to increase to 585,000 MT in Marketing Year (MY) 2012/13. The United States claimed a
sizeable market share of the wheat market and increased it by 33 percent. Domestic corn production is
expected to increase by 15 percent while milled rice production is expected to increase to 725,000 MT
in MY 2012/13. Corn imports are expected to decrease to 400,000 MT in MY 2012/13.
Wheat production in Ecuador is expected to remain around 9,000 MT again this year, despite
Ecuadorian government incentives for domestic wheat. Domestic production levels are still
insignificant compared to current demand. In Marketing Year (MY) 2012/13 (July 2012-June 2013), it
is estimated that imports will increase to 585,000 MT in response to population growth and demand
from the aquaculture feed industry. The market share for exporting countries seems to be showing signs
of a shift from Canada to the United States. Canada remains the largest exporter. The U.S. market share
increased from 19 percent in 2011 to 33 percent in 2012. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency.
Given the recent strength of the Canadian dollar, this tends to benefit imports from the United States.
Corn production is expected to increase by about 15 percent in MY2012/2013 (May 2012-April 2013)
due to favorable weather conditions. In 2013, annual consumption is expected to increase to 1.41
million MT. Imported corn is used mainly by the feed meal compound industry and the related poultry,
egg, and pork industries. Post projects that corn imports will decrease to decrease to 400,000 MT in
MY 2012/13 due to increased domestic production. The United States did not supply any significant
amounts of corn. Argentina is the primary source of imports.
Milled rice production will increase to 775,000 MT in MY 2012/13 (April 2012-March 2013). Ecuador
has steadily been increasing rice production, but bad weather may affect yields.
Wheat Ecuador 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014
Market Year Begin: Jul 2011 Market Year Begin: Jul 2012 Market Year Begin: Jul 2013
USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post
Area Harvested 8 11 10 11 11
Beginning Stocks 119 119 73 92 81
Production 6 8 8 9 9
MY Imports 490 580 500 585 590
TY Imports 490 542 500 559 560
TY Imp. from U.S. 144 102 0 185 200
Total Supply 615 707 581 686 680
MY Exports 2 0 0 0 0
TY Exports 2 0 0 0 0
Feed and Residual 65 95 50 105 110
FSI Consumption 475 520 475 500 510
Total Consumption 540 615 525 605 620
Ending Stocks 73 92 56 81 60
Total Distribution 615 707 581 686 680
1000 HA, 1000 MT, MT/HA
Since the 1970s, wheat production in Ecuador has declined steeply. In 1990, Ecuador produced 30,000
MT in 37,000 harvested hectares. Since then, low yields, poor soil quality and the lack of high quality
seed combined with low prices for local wheat have contributed to reduced production. Local production
is very small at about 9,000 MT in MY 2012/13. To fulfill local demand, Ecuador imports large
amounts of wheat.
In response to high international prices for wheat in 2008, and in an effort to guarantee self-supply of
wheat, the Government of Ecuador (GOE) provides Ecuadorian farmers in the northern and central
highlands with incentives to plant wheat for local consumption. These incentives have included
releasing improved wheat varieties, subsidizing fertilizers, and government backed loans. Business
associations have meanwhile requested lower tariffs for imported wheat until domestic production
increases to meet local demand. In July 2010, Ecuador’s National Agricultural Research Institute
(INIAP) released three wheat varieties. These wheat varieties were the result of traditional breeding of
materials introduced from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. INIAP varieties are
expected to produce about 12,000 pounds of grain per hectare, be resistant to leaf rust (brown rust) and
stripe rust (yellow rust) and adapt to weather conditions in Ecuador’s highlands. INIAP has indicated
that the protein content of this variety is above 13 percent. Currently, there are no significant areas
planted with these varieties.
In late 2009, the GOE started a price support mechanism for domestically produced wheat. However,
supply increases have not followed. Only about 2,000 MT of total domestic production is made
available for purchase by the millers, the rest is sold locally in small towns near the production areas.
The perception is that the GOE’s efforts will not be sustainable due to the large size of the market and
bakers’ preference for imported higher-quality wheat. A GOE requirement to prove purchase of
domestic production prior to issuing import permits was eliminated in 2010.
More stable international prices and stable bread prices in Ecuador started to return consumption to pre-
2008 levels through MY 2011/12. In MY 2012/13 demand for wheat has been stable.
Higher global demand for shrimp: Ecuador is a major producer and exporter of shrimp. In response to
good world prices, Ecuador has increased its shrimp exports. Wheat is an important ingredient in the
feed needed to produce it. Post estimates that the seafood industry would consume at least 75,000 MT
of wheat in MY 2012/13, out of 105,000 MT of wheat used for feed in all industries.
Per capita human consumption has decreased slightly. Although Ecuadorian consumers eat bread at
least twice a day and increasingly consider pasta as a staple, they also like the convenience of being able
to find bakeries with freshly baked bread rolls within walking distance to their homes. According to
industry sources, consumers are decreasing their consumption of bread due to dietary considerations.
The price of non-specialty bread is set by the GOE. The price of a bread roll has stayed at $0.12 since
For MY 2013/14, demand of imported wheat for feed is expected to remain stable.
Imports for Calendar Year (CY) 2012 increased 3 percent from CY 2011. Total imports in 2012
increased about 17,000 MT compared to the previous year. Since Ecuador primarily uses wheat for
bread and pasta, imports of hard wheat are, on average, higher than those of soft wheat, usually by a 3 to
1 ratio. In 2012, this ratio continued to decrease slightly to 2.9 to 1.
The U.S. market share of Ecuador’s wheat imports increased considerably from 19 percent in 2011 to 33
percent in 2012. Most of Ecuador’s wheat imports continue to come from Canada.
Ecuador’s wheat imports are expected to increase to 590,000 MT in MY 2013/14 in response to
population growth and higher demand of feed by the aquaculture industry.
In order to address a balance of payments problem, the GOE has engaged in a process to substitute
wheat imports with local production while at the same time addressing rural development issues in
Ecuador’s highlands. In October, 2009 at a major summit gathering producers, government authorities,
and millers, an agreement was reached to guarantee a minimum price for one ton of wheat equivalent to
$400. In October 2012, the price per ton of domestically produced wheat was set at $485. The policy
aims at encouraging small farmers in the provinces of Bolivar, Chimborazo, Carchi, Imbabura and
Pichincha to start growing wheat. Ecuador spent $212 million on wheat imports in 2012, down from
$221 million in 2011. Each year in November, a consultative committee is expected to determine
changes in the minimum price of wheat. Millers are required to buy domestic production in amounts
relative to their imports, a process similar to the management of soybean meal imports. The GOE
intends to increase the harvested area to 50,000 ha in the next few years. INIAP and other research
institutions have stated their interest in expanding wheat production to the warmer and flatter lands of
the Ecuadorian Coast. Pilot research projects including seed development and best agricultural practices
In December 2012, Ecuador’s Foreign Trade Committee extended a zero-tariff preferential treatment for
wheat through December 2014. Wheat imports, however, are still subject to the variable levy
established by the Andean Price Band System (APBS). Wheat is a marker product under the APBS,
formerly with a basic tariff of 10 percent plus an additional variable levy, depending on international
reference prices. In July of 2001, the GOE phased–out wheat from the price band system as part of its
WTO commitments. However, Ecuador and other Andean countries included wheat in the price band in
August of 2003. They argued that they had an obligation to do so under Andean Community
commitments. The Andean Community set floor and ceiling prices of wheat, which are currently $283
and $354 per MT.
In February 2013, the GOE announced that the Superintendent for Control of Market Power (Ecuador’s
antitrust agency) will start an investigation of the conditions under which wheat bread is produced and
commercialized. This announcement was made, according to the GOE, in response to citizens’
complaints about how wheat flour is traded and the apparent small number of providers existing in the
Ecuador has bilateral trade agreements with Peru and Chile, and regional trade agreements with the
Latin American Association of Integration (ALADI). In 2004, Ecuador reached a tariff liberalization
agreement with MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). Implementation of these
agreements in Ecuador started in April 2005. Wheat has special treatment under MERCOSUR, thus
tariff preferences are granted over the total duty, which is comprised of the ad-valorem (basic) duty plus
the Andean Price Band variable levy. In 2007, trade partners agreed to the following tariff reductions:
HTS Pr Paraguay/4 Uruguay/2 Argentina/3 Brazil/3 Mexico/1 U.S. and Canada oduct
10011090 Wheat, durum 42% 99% 15% 15% 8% 0%
10019020 Wheat, other 42% 99% 15% 15% 8% 0%
/1 under ALADI
/2 Uruguay will have reached zero tariffs on wheat by January 1, 2009
/3 Argentina and Brazil will have reached zero tariffs on wheat by January 1, 2018
/4 Paraguay will have reached zero tariffs on wheat by January 1, 2015
Corn Ecuador 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014
Market Year Begin: May 2011 Market Year Begin: May 2012 Market Year Begin: May 2013
USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post
Area Harvested 310 310 290 315 320
Beginning Stocks 70 70 48 99 60
Production 850 850 870 975 1,100
MY Imports 482 563 550 400 350
TY Imports 400 536 550 308 250
TY Imp. from U.S. 30 216 0 7 5
Total Supply 1,402 1,483 1,468 1,474 1,510
MY Exports 4 4 5 4 5
TY Exports 10 4 5 3 5
Feed and Residual 1,300 1,300 1,350 1,325 1,350
FSI Consumption 50 80 50 85 90
Total Consumption 1,350 1,380 1,400 1,410 1,440
Ending Stocks 48 99 63 60 65
Total Distribution 1,402 1,483 1,468 1,474 1,510
1000 HA, 1000 MT, MT/HA
* 2012, expressed as “MY 2012/13” is May 2012 to April 2013.
TY 2012, expressed as “TY 2011/12” is October 2011 to September 2011.
Since 1995, corn production has been very unstable with a record high of 913,000 MT in 2007 followed
by fluctuations in production levels. For MY 2012, production is expected to be around 975,000 MT.
High international prices have encouraged farmers to increase production. In addition, practices such as
requiring purchase of local production before importing and guaranteeing prices at least equal to the
corn CIF import cost are likely to continue to be enforced by the current GOE, further encouraging
Post estimates that corn production will likely experience an increase through MY 2013/14. Yields will
remain likely increase above 3 MT per hectare thanks to use of higher-yield seeds.
Corn consumption depends on local demand for animal feed and on the availability of lower-priced corn
substitutes. The strong annual growth in poultry consumption has continued in the last three years:
2010, 467,000 MT; 2011, 490,000 MT; and 2012, 495,000 MT. Chicken meat consumption has
increased by an average of about 5 percent a year. Growth was flat in 2012 and per capita consumption
of chicken remains at 32 Kg (about 70.5 lb). The poultry industry, with a total population of 220 million
birds in 2012, is expected to maintain the same size in 2012 (8 million egg laying chickens, 212 million
The poultry industry consumes 70 percent of feed corn every year. Total egg production was estimated
at 2.274 billion in 2010, 2.15 billion in 2011, and 2.16 billion in 2012. Egg production has been
decreasing in response to lower exports from Ecuador to Colombia, triggered by more competitive egg
production in Colombia.
Ecuador’s corn consumption increased by about 12.5 percent in MY 2011/12, and it is expected to
increase by at least 5,000 MT in MY 2012/13. Overall, feed meal production has significantly grown in
the past 15 years, from 576,000 MT in 1995 to 2.25 million MT in 2011 and 2.5 million MT in 2012.
About 70 percent of feed is destined to poultry production, 10 percent to pork production, and 13
percent to the aquaculture industry. Annual pork production is estimated at 110,000 MT of meat.
In MY 2012/13, total corn imports are estimated at 400,000 MT, down from 563,000 MT during the
previous year. Corn imports continued to outnumber corn exports and U.S. market share fell to about 2
percent from almost 40 percent in TY 2011/12. It is expected that in MY 2013/14 the U.S. market share
will remain low due to quality and price concerns. Ecuador’s feed industry has switched from preferring
U.S. corn to Argentine corn in the last year. Total imports for MY 2013/14 are estimated to decrease to
350,000 MT due to significantly higher local production.
At 22 percent, imports still represent a significant percentage of Ecuador’s total corn consumption.
From 2001-2012, Ecuador imported, on average, more than 50 percent of its corn, a minimum of
150,000 MT and a maximum of 552,500 MT. However, increased local production will likely continue
to replace imports of corn.
Ecuador exports corn to Colombia in order to satisfy that country’s demand of corn: yellow, white and
other local varieties for human consumption and increasingly for animal consumption. Most exports are
made by land, with farmers paid in cash. Exports usually take place during the peak of the winter
harvest season (May-June). Ecuadorian corn is used in Colombia to make “arepas” due to Colombian
consumer’s preferences for a particular type of corn native to the Andean region. Ecuador exported
about 4,000 MT of corn to Colombia in MY 2011/2012. Exports of small amounts of corn to other
markets are largely targeted to Ecuadorian migrants living in Spain, Italy and the United States.
Corn imports are assessed a 15 percent ad-valorem duty (over CIF), plus a variable levy applied under
the APBS. The Andean Community set floor and ceiling prices of yellow corn are currently $233 and
$284 per MT. The variable levy for corn currently remains at -15 percent, thus import duties for corn
are temporarily zero. Upon accession to the WTO, Ecuador bound its tariffs (including the additional
APBS levy) for corn at 45 percent. In addition, Ecuador maintains a worldwide TRQ of 19,600 MT of
corn at a set tariff of 25 percent. This TRQ is filled when international corn prices drop and the APBS
increases corn duties beyond 25 percent (15 percent ad-valorem + a variable levy over 10 percent).
The GOE does not provide any formal subsidy or economic assistance program to promote yellow corn
production. However, the Ministry of Agriculture aggressively encourages production by implementing
mandatory purchases of all domestic production by corn importers and banning imports during the
domestic corn harvest season. The GOE also sets a minimum price in accordance with feed producers
and animal processing plants. Domestic producers are usually paid lower prices than international
prices, in part due to pressure from industry groups and also due to lower production costs in Ecuador.
These GOE’s interventions seek to guarantee the complete purchase of local production at higher prices.
In addition, Ecuadorian corn producers have effectively lobbied the GOE to stop imports of sorghum for
many years despite efforts by the feed industry to import it. Ecuadorian producers claim that sorghum
imports would significantly reduce demand of domestically-produced and imported corn.
Under the CAN-MERCOSUR trade talks, Ecuador has negotiated bilateral tariff reductions with
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. These tariff reductions apply only to the ad-valorem duties as
the Andean Price Band System is maintained for corn. The Ecuador–MERCOSUR agreement entered
into effect in Ecuador on April 1, 2005 and has liberalization schedules of 14 years for most cereals,
including corn, as follows:
Country of Origin First Liberalization Full Liberalization
Argentina 3 year grace period 2005-2008, 10% reduction starting in January 2008. In 2018, 100% liberalization
Brazil In 2008: 10% reduction. 15% in 2009. 5% yearly reduction from 2009 to 100% in 2018.
Paraguay In 2007, 40% reduction until 2012. In 2018, 100% liberalization
Uruguay In 2007, 50% reduction until 2013. 100% reduction in 2018.
Rice, Milled Ecuador 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014
Market Year Begin: Apr 2011 Market Year Begin: Apr 2012 Market Year Begin: Apr 2013
USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post
Area Harvested 360 0 350 360 360
Beginning Stocks 134 134 58 37 117
Milled Production 624 625 650 775 790
Rough Production 990 992 1,032 1,230 1,254
Milling Rate (.9999) 6,300 6,300 6,300 6,300 6,300
MY Imports 35 0 70 44 0
TY Imports 35 0 20 45 0
TY Imp. from U.S. 0 0 0 0 0
Total Supply 793 759 778 856 907
MY Exports 45 27 20 14 75
TY Exports 30 63 15 14 100
Consumption and Residual 690 695 700 725 740
Ending Stocks 58 37 58 117 92
Total Distribution 793 759 778 856 907
1000 HA, 1000 MT, MT/HA
* MY 2012/13 is April 2012 to March 2013.
TY 2011/12 is January 2012 to December 2012
Milled rice production is expected to be 775,000 MT in MY 2012/13 and is forecast to increase to
790,000 MT in MY 2013/2014. Low prices in MY 2010/2011 discouraged farmers to plant rice but
high prices during MT 2012/13 have had an effect on area planted. The high production forecasted
depends on good weather conditions.
The availability of new rice varieties has kept rice production at high levels in recent years. The new
varieties allow for 2.5 harvests per year in areas under irrigation, high international prices, government
subsidized inputs, and sustained demand for Ecuadorian rice by the GOE. The planting season started
normally this calendar year and Ecuador is expected to have a first harvest in late April.
Rice production takes place in the lowlands of the coastal region, on areas that flood during the rainy
season (November through April) and remain humid during the summer (May-September). Therefore,
lack of or excessive rainfall is a determining factor for the volume of production. The largest harvest
registers at the end of the rainy season (May through June). During the summer only a third of the
available area is planted because irrigation is expensive and limited to large farms and specific areas.
The majority (75 percent) of rice producers in Ecuador are poor, small farmers that own and plant less
than 5 hectares with yields below 2.2 MT per hectare.
Rice is a staple food for Ecuadorians and the majority of Ecuador’s production is consumed locally.
Total consumption is expected to reach 725,000 MT in MY 2012/13, in response to increases in
population. Ecuador’s per capita consumption is about 5.0 per month. As with wheat and other sources
of carbohydrates, consumption seems to be decreasing slightly among the Ecuadorian population due to
Rice sales are traditionally marketed through wholesalers in one hundred pound sacks (45 kg) or through
small stores by the pound. Prices vary depending on the marketing channel. For example, the official
wholesale price of the 100-pound sack is $36-38, while sales by the pound can make the price grow to
$50 per sack. Approximately 80 percent of rice sales are made in sacks or by the pound. In addition, as
a result of supermarket expansion in the main cities of Ecuador, purchasing habits have shifted towards
buying branded bags of 2 or 5 kg. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of total rice sales are now made
through supermarkets under these presentations. Locally produced parboiled rice was available in
supermarkets in 2009, reflecting a shift in consumer preference toward ready-to-eat food products.
Ecuador is also experiencing an increase in the range of rice varieties available for purchasing. The rice
varieties include basmati rice, wild rice, risotto, and sushi rice. Imported amounts are still very limited.
Ecuador has imported minimal quantities of paddy rice in the last ten years, with the exception of 1998
when weather-related losses caused imports to grow to 140,000 MT. If Ecuador’s production capacity
were to continue at its current pace, it is unlikely that Ecuador would need to import rice in the future.
However, there remains a small niche market for specialty rice varieties such as basmati, sushi-type rice,
risotto, wild rice, and parboiled rice.
Ecuador has typically exported rice surpluses to neighboring Colombia. Milled rice exports to
Colombia experienced an increase in MY 20012/2013 at about 14,000 MT. Due to high domestic prices
Ecuador did not export rice to to Venezuela.
Rice imports are a very sensitive issue in Ecuador. The GOE is pushing a self-sufficiency program for
rice by continuing to implement the APBS and by controlling imports and exports. APBS set floor and
ceiling prices of rice are currently $505 and $651 per MT. Imports of rice can be levied up to a 68
percent ad-valorem tariff. The GOE through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and
Fisheries is the only authorized issuer of export permits. It also acts as authorized exporter of existing
The GOE’s position from a food security perspective is to have a permanent emergency stock of 80,000
MT. Post has been informed that there will likely be a surplus production in MY 2013/14 and that
exports of at least 100,000 MT will need to occur.
Ecuador’s new Food Sovereignty Law has been approved by Ecuador’s Congress. The Law prohibits
any exports of food products unless there are surpluses. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture’s
Consultative Committee on rice which consists of producers, millers and government officials, decides
on the timing and quantity of rice imports. Members of the Andean Community are assessed zero tariffs
and are not assessed the Andean Price Band. However, a ministerial decree is necessary before an
import can be authorized. Other Latin American countries have been granted ad-valorem tariff
preferences under Latin American Integration Association, but they still are assessed the Andean Price
Band, as follows:
HTS Description U.S. & World CAN Peru Chile
Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Brasil M exico
10061090 Rice, Paddy 20% Zero Zero 15% 15% 7.5% 15% 15% 15%
10062000 Rice, Brown 68% Zero Zero 20% 20% 10% 20% 20% 20%
10063000 Rice, Milled 68% Zero Zero 20% 12% 10% 20% 20% 20%
10064000 Rice, Broken 25% Zero Zero 20% 20% 10% 20% 20% 20%
* ALADI stands for Latin American Integration Association.
Note: Although Peru is part of CAN, Ecuador has a bilateral agreement with that nation, which includes preferences on rice. Chile has also negotiated a
bilateral trade agreement with Ecuador.