Rice exports plunge in Q1

Rice exports plunge in Q1

Better prospects seen for last two quarters

Rice is harvested in a field in Phitsanulok province. (Photo: Taweechai Tawatpakorn)
Rice is harvested in a field in Phitsanulok province. (Photo: Taweechai Tawatpakorn)

Thailand saw its rice exports dive 23% in the first quarter year-on-year to 1.13 million tonnes because of higher prices than competitors.

Export value from January to March dropped to 21.8 billion baht, down 23.6% from the same period last year, said Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Factors behind the high rice prices include the strong baht, higher freight costs and lower domestic supply caused by drought, which lasted for two consecutive years.

China, which has agreements with rice exporting countries like Pakistan and Cambodia, bought more of the grain from these countries.

In March 2021, Thailand exported only 87,305 tonnes of white rice, a 49.2% drop from February, to its main export markets comprising Cameroon, Japan, Mozambique, Guinea and Malaysia.

Parboiled rice exports declined 22.3% from February to 60,803 tonnes.

The price of Thai parboiled rice stood at US$557 per tonne, while Indian parboiled rice was $383-387 and Pakistani rice stood at $457-461 per tonne.

Thai hom mali rice exports fell 9.6% from February to 90,508 tonnes.

The major markets for the rice were the US, Hong Kong, China and Canada.

In total, rice exports in March fell 25.8% to 302,668 tonnes, with value down by 18.8% to 6.26 billion baht from the same period last year.

Thailand is the world's third largest rice exporter after India, which sells rice at the lowest price, and Pakistan.

Mr Charoen said Thai rice exports were expected to rise to 400,000 tonnes in April, compared with India, which exported nearly 2 million tonnes.

"We expect rice export prospects will be better in the third and fourth quarters," he said, hoping to see more supply in the rainy season.

If domestic output rises, domestic prices will fall, enabling Thailand to better compete with India.

White rice paddy is now priced at more than 9,000 baht per tonne.

This year's rice export target is 6 million tonnes.

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