Thai Hom Mali rice exports are expected to remain in good shape this year, but stiffer competition looms as several countries step up their efforts to expand their export markets for aromatic grains.
Kittipan Laoprapassorn, sales manager of Siam Grains, a major exporter of jasmine rice, said Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar are accelerating the development of their aromatic rice varieties and their export support.
Thai Hom Mali is now quoted at US$1,150 a tonne, but Vietnamese aromatic rice is only $550-600.
"We're losing the market for premium-grade rice to Vietnam," said Mr Kittipan. "It's clearly evident for example in the US, where its supermarkets now place more Vietnamese aromatic rice on their shelves. This is compounded by US fragrant rice _ dubbed Jazzmen _ now being more available in California."
Founded in 1982, Siam Grains was established to export top-quality glutinous rice to foreign markets. Later on, Siam Grains expanded its main product line to include Thai Hom Mali and other rice varieties. Siam Grains now own two mills and three warehouse facilities.
The company expects to ship over 100,000 tonnes of rice this year, with Thai Hom Mali accounting for 80%. Key markets include the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Africa.
Sales revenues are estimated at 3 billion baht this year, up from 2 billion and 87,000 tonnes a year before.
"Africa has high potential for jasmine rice exports, as we've found it is growing in popularity there," he said.
Thailand is expected to ship 1.5 million tonnes of jasmine rice this year, up from 1.37 million a year earlier. Hong Kong remains a key market for Thai Hom Mali, making up about 300,000 tonnes.
The Thai Rice Exporters Association forecast overall Thai rice exports this year to stay at 6.5 million tonnes worth US$4.65 billion, lower than the 8.5 million tonnes worth $5.7 billion set by the Commerce Ministry.
Last year, Thailand's rice shipments totalled 6.95 million tonnes, down by 30% from 2011, making it slip to third place among rice-exporting nations.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter