Fake Thai rice draws regulatory attention

Adulterated rice has become a hot topic following an exposé as part of China’s Consumer Rights Day on March 15th.

Each year, state broadcaster CCTV runs a two-hour primetime special looking into deceptive or illegal business practices which harm consumers. This year has included shoddy cell phones, unapproved cosmetic treatments, and an official passing off refurbished electrical infrastructure equipment as new.

But the topic which has gained the most attention online is a company selling fake Thai fragrant basmati rice.

The company in Anhui was selling rice grown in the region, adding chemical fragrances, and then repackaging it as much more expensive Thai basmati rice.

Imports of Thai rice have fluctuated in recent years in a range from 300-700k tons per year. 2022 saw imports of whole Thai rice at 544k tons. According to Customs data, the import price last year averaged 3942 yuan per ton, substantially more expensive than domestic rice.

Another topic featured was substandard work in farmland construction.

A consistent government effort has been to create ‘high-quality farmland’ to help boost productivity and yields. This means having fields in uniform shapes, drainage canals, ditches around fields, and roadways connecting fields.

The TV investigation found that the concrete pipes used in drainage canals in Jiangsu province were already cracking and falling apart before even being put in the ground. In response, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered Jiangsu to investigate and prosecute the problem and sent a special team to oversee the local officials investigation.