Rice export target raised
Thailand expects to be able to ship more rice than earlier projected because of higher demand and lower global supply.
Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the Commerce Ministry has raised its rice export target to 10 million tonnes at the end of this year from 9.5 million tonnes in earlier projections.
The forecast comes despite shipments falling 3.4% from January to April 17, to 3.58 million tonnes.
During the period, rice exports fetched US$1.78 billion (56.6 billion baht), up 14.5% from the same period last year.
Thailand was the world leader in rice shipments, followed by India, which exported 3.21 million tonnes; Vietnam, with 1.61 million tonnes; and Pakistan, with 1.28 million tonnes.
Average rice prices for the period were $497.39 a tonne, up from $419.19 in the same period last year.
Of the total rice exports, white rice made up 48.7%, followed by parboiled rice at 27.7% and hom mali at 10.2%.
"Prices of almost all kinds of Thai rice increased, especially for Thai hom mali rice, which has stayed steady at $1,150 a tonne since March," Mr Adul said. "Rice prices are expected to remain in a rising trend and are expected to fare better in the second half, as the global rice market is a seller's market."
He said many countries need to buy more rice for their safety stock and plan to keep ordering Thai rice on a continuous basis.
Thailand also no longer keeps hefty rice stocks, putting pressure on world rice prices.
"We're confident that Thailand's rice shipments will outstrip the 9.5 million tonnes projected earlier," Mr Adul said. "The ministry raised the forecast to 10 million tonnes this year, worth $4.53 billion or about 145 billion baht."
Mr Adul said overall global demand is strong, particularly from China, Japan and the Philippines.
Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said Thailand won an auction yesterday to supply 120,000 tonnes of white rice under a government-to-government contract to the Philippines at $517.50 per tonne.
The Philippines held an auction yesterday to import 200,000 tonnes. Vietnam won the rights to supply the remaining 80,000 tonnes at similar prices.
Mr Sontirat said the Philippines is also scheduled to call a general rice auction for an additional 250,000 tonnes on May 22, which is a good opportunity for Thai exporters to sell more rice to Manila.
Last year, Thailand exported a record 11.6 million tonnes of milled rice, up 17.4% year-on-year, fetching 174.5 billion baht, up 12.8%.
The top five importers of Thai rice were Benin, China, South Africa, Cameroon and the US.
Mr Adul said that from May 17, 2014, to April 25, 2018, the government disposed of 14.8 million tonnes of state rice stocks worth 135 billion baht.
The government now controls about 2 million tonnes in rice stocks, mostly substandard and low-quality grains for industrial use.