Commerce targets China for premium rice exports

Commerce targets China for premium rice exports

Thailand is revving up its sales campaign for premium-grade rice in China, hoping to raise trade volume to more than 10,000 tonnes this year.

Deputy Commerce Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara said the Commerce Ministry continues seeking futures contracts for Thai rice, particularly for premium or speciality-grade as part of preparation for the annual production.

"China is the first focus of the ministry's campaign," she said. "The ministry is extending the campaign to cover other markets such as the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore."

Premium-grade Thai rice includes Kor Khor 43, recommended for diabetics because of the low sugar level, hom mali fragrant rice, and coloured rice such as violet-hued riceberry, which is known for its specific health benefits.

Last year Thailand exported a record 11.6 million tonnes of milled rice, up 17.4% year-on-year, fetching 174.5 billion baht, a gain of 12.8%.

The top five importers of Thai rice were Benin, China, South Africa, Cameroon and the US.

Of the total, premium-grade rice accounted for a total of 1.62 million tonnes.

In the first five months of 2018, Thailand exported 406,000 tonnes of rice worth US$213 million compared with 580,000 tonnes worth $232 million in the same period last year. The Commerce Ministry in May raised its rice export target to 10 million tonnes this year from 9.5 million.

In a related development, Ms Chutima yesterday presided over a memorandum of understanding between Medifoods (Thailand) Co and Zhejiang Zhong Cereal and Oil Imp & Exp Co on a partnership to promote and market Kor Khor 43 grains to Chinese consumers via both retail channels and e-commerce through Tmall.com, under the "Thai Rice Flagship Store" scheme.

Tmall.com, the world's largest third-party platform for brands and retailers, launched the scheme in April to promote Thai rice to Chinese customers. Tmall.com, formerly known as Taobao Mall, is Alibaba's business-to-consumer marketplace. In addition, Alibaba plans to help drive the sale of popular Thai fruit such as durian in China.

The ministry expects up to 45,000 tonnes of high-quality rice will be exported via e-commerce this year, rising to 120,000 tonnes in 2019.

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