Thailand to offer stiff competition to India for global rice exports

Thailand is likely to offer stiff competition to India in the global rice market this year with its production rebounding from the lows seen in 2019 and 2020. It is India’s only competitor in the parboiled segment of the rice trade.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Thailand’s rice production during the 2021-22 season is projected at 20.8 million tonnes (mt) compared with 18.8 mt in 2020-21 and 17.65 mt in 2019-20. Production is expected to recover on better availability of water, an issue during 2019 and 2020. 

As a result of the rise in production, Thailand’s rice exports this year are likely to be 31 per cent higher at eight mt tonnes against 6.1 mt last year, said USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) post in Bangkok.

Higher exports have been forecast mainly in view of a weaker Thai baht. Thailand parboiled rice prices have dropped to match with Indian prices. They are only $20-30 more than the Indian prices. Currently, Indian parboiled rice 5 per cent broken is quoted at $370-376 a tonne, while Thailand is quoting $395 per tonne.

The USDA’s Bangkok FAS Post said Thai parboiled rice was more competitive with Indian parboiled rice and some 44 per cent of exports last year went mainly to South Africa, Benin, Cameroon, and Angola. Of this, 70 per cent was parboiled rice.

Higher domestic price for parboiled rice and problems of transportation have created uncertainty over Indian parboiled exports. The movement of parboiled rice from Chhattisgarh to Kakinada ports in Andhra Pradesh was affected due to a shortage of rail rakes, though the situation has begun to ease. On the other hand, the Union Government is procuring parboiled rice in Chhattisgarh at nearly Rs 20 a kg and offering it to traders at Rs 24, making things difficult for exporters. “There is likely to be a strong demand for (Thailand) white and parboiled rice as traders speculate that Thai rice export prices will remain more attractive than Vietnamese and Indian rice,” said the USDA Bangkok FAS Post.

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