Rice shipments out of Thailand are expected to fare better than the government’s target of 10 million tonnes because of price competitiveness and recovering exports of hom mali fragrant rice, shippers say.
Even so, that amount would be insufficient to retake the title of world’s leading rice exporter from India, leaving Thailand in the No.2 spot for a second straight year in 2016.
Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said India has so far shipped 700,000 tonnes more than Thailand and at year-end its rice shipments are likely to reach at least 10.5 million.
In a July 28 report, the US Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service said India’s rice production was forecast at 105 million tonnes harvested from 44 million hectares. This compares with 103.5 million tonnes harvested from 43.5 million hectares in the 2015-16 market year.
India’s market year 2015-16 ending stocks are estimated to be 18.5 million tonnes (16.2 million government rice and 2.3 million private) on higher government rice stocks due to higher procurement and relatively weak offtake, according to the US report.
Market year 2016-17 ending stocks are also forecast higher at 16.4 million tonnes on normal procurement and government offtake.
Indian rice exports have steadied since the beginning of calendar year 2016 on recovery in export demand for Basmati rice and non-Basmati rice. There has been recovery in export demand for Basmati rice largely due to competitive prices and revival of demand for non-Basmati rice in African countries, the US report said.
Mr Charoen said Thailand shipped 9.2 million tonnes of milled rice in the first 11 months, with the shipment figures in November alone reaching nearly one million tonnes led by hom mali fragrant rice.
In November, hom mali rice shipments surged 20% year-on-year to 120,000 tonnes, as buyers accelerated purchases to capitalise on the affordable prices.
Last year, Thailand shipped 9.79 million tonnes, fetching $155.9 billion baht. Of the shipment volumes, hom mali rice accounted for 1.98 million tonnes.
The Commerce Ministry has set a target for rice exports to reach 9.5 million tonnes this year.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, said Thailand is expected to ship more than 800,000 tonnes of rice in December.