Rice shippers take dimmer view of 2019
Exports seen falling below 10m tonnes
Rice exporters forecast Thailand to ship 9.5 million tonnes this year, 500,000 tonnes shy of the Commerce Ministry's forecast and 1.6 million tonnes less than the total shipped in 2018.
The lower volume is due to a stronger baht and increased competition from India and Vietnam, Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said yesterday.
Thailand is also expected to fetch a lower export value from rice of US$4.8 billion this year, Mr Charoen said.
Shipments totalled 11.09 million tonnes last year, down 5% from 11.67 million in 2017 but higher than 9.91 million in 2016.
Export value rose 8.3% last year to $5.61 billion from $5.18 billion in 2017 and $4.40 billion in 2016. Rice export prices averaged $507 per metric tonne last year, up 14.1% from 2017.
Of the total, white rice made up 5.49 million tonnes (up 17.4%, year-on-year), including parboiled rice at 2.71 million tonnes (down 19.9%), hom mali fragrant rice at 1.27 million tonnes (down 22.1%), white broken rice at 390,000 tonnes (down 0.7%), hom mali broken rice at 380,000 tonnes (down 43.2%), general fragrant rice at 260,000 tonnes (up 18.6%), broken glutinous rice at 200,000 tonnes (down 32.3%), glutinous rice 180,000 tonnes (down 15.7%).
The association forecasts Thailand to ship 4.8 million tonnes of white rice this year, including 2.4 million tonnes of parboiled rice, 1.3 million tonnes of hom mali fragrant rice, 600,000 tonnes of general fragrant rice and 400,000 tonnes of glutinous rice.
"Thailand's rice export prospects are unlikely to be on a par with last year, mainly due to a stronger baht than the currencies of our competitors," Mr Charoen said. "The government, therefore, needs to take care of the baht to ensure it moves in line with the currencies of competitors."
The baht has gained nearly 2.6% against the US dollar so far this year.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said shipments of Thai white rice, hom mali fragrant rice and parboiled rice are expected to decrease this year because of high prices.
For example, the price of Thai 5% white rice is now quoted at $390-395 per tonne, while the Vietnamese price is just $340 per tonne.