Auction sees sharp drop in rice stocks

Auction sees sharp drop in rice stocks

Pledged rice stocks fit for human consumption have shrunk to only 160,000 tonnes after the government managed to sell off 1.66 million tonnes out of a total of 1.82 million tonnes put up for the second auction last month.

Keerati Rushchano, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the national rice policy committee yesterday gave the nod for the Commerce Ministry to sell off 1.66 million tonnes of the remaining grain fit for human consumption from 182 state warehouses to 24 winning bidders worth a combined 16.6 billion baht.

After 1.66 million tonnes were sold, the government now controls an estimated 2.9 million tonnes, 2.7 million of which is poor-quality and decaying grain only good for industrial use and animal feed.

From the May 2014 coup up until yesterday, a total of 13.9 million tonnes of rice has been sold via auctions, fetching 130 billion baht.

"Although the government still controls 160,000 tonnes of quality rice fit for human consumption, the figures are not so significant that they can affect the rice market," he said. "More importantly, global rice prices are in an upward trend thanks to higher demand and lower supply."

Mr Keerati said the Philippines, one of the world's leading rice buyers, plans to make a bid to buy 250,000 tonnes of the grain next month to increase their stockpiles and Thailand is ready to join this bid.

According to Mr Keerati, there is also demand for about 200,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Bangladesh while Iraq is also interested in buying more rice from Thailand.

Between Jan 1 and June 5, Thailand shipped 5.09 million tonnes of rice, up 15.7% on the same period last year, fetching US$2.17 billion, up 12.4% year-on-year.

Jeremy Zwinger, chief executive of the Rice Trader, said recently at the "World Rice Trade Outlook" seminar at the Thailand Rice Convention 2017, held in Bangkok, that world rice prices are expected to rise by US$20 (682 baht) a tonne over the next three months, driven by a sharp surge in global rice demand, according to experts.

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