Worldwide rice production totaled 481 million metric tons in 2011, including 7.1% in trade. Fragrant rice is estimated to account for 15-18% of the rice trade procuring the highest prices on the world market. Some new players are interested in entering this premium segment, including the US, Vietnam, and other rice growers and traders. The fragrant rice commodity chain is deciphered through a meta-analysis of data on rice cropping and trading. We conclude on a possible split between fragrant and coarse rice markets. The upcoming challenges for fragrant rice industry are discussed with the next release of genetically modified varieties; water scarcity in rice cropping; and land use trade-offs between fragrant and coarse rice.