Rice forecast up almost 15%
Rice exporters forecast shipments to rise by 14.8% this year to 7 million tonnes driven by sufficient water supply.
Higher demand is anticipated thanks to a global economic recovery, while a favourable foreign exchange rate should make Thai rice competitive, according to Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.
For the 2021/2022 harvest season, the association expects rice production to increase to 30-32 million tonnes of paddy rice or 20 million of milled rice, up from 27-28 million tonnes of paddy rice or 17 million tonnes in the 2020/2021 season.
A widespread drought is unlikely this year, as happened two years ago, he said.
Given the ample water supply, Mr Charoen said second-crop rice production is also expected to increase.
He said the container shortage and lack of shipping space causing relatively higher freight rates are expected to remain key risk factors for rice exports.
The association expects rice exports in January will tally 700,000 tonnes, slightly down from 729,138 tonnes worth 12.5 billion baht in December.
According to the association, in December outbound shipments of white rice and parboiled rice dropped from the previous month as importing countries had already imported plenty of rice and had sufficient stocks.
It was fortunate exports of Thai hom mali rice gained 31.3% in November year-on-year as key importers sped up shipments for use during New Year and Chinese New Year festivals, said Mr Charoen.
"The association expects rice prices during this period are likely to increase as supplies start becoming tight," he said.
The appreciating baht also caused Thai rice export prices to rise, with the free-on-board prices of 5% white rice as of Jan 26 quoted at US$438 per tonne, compared with $398-402 per tonne for Vietnamese grain, $338-342 for Indian rice and $358-362 per tonne for Pakistan.
Thai parboiled rice prices also quoted higher at $438 per tonne, compared with $368-372 per tonne for India's rice and $388-392 per tonne for Pakistan's.
According to the association's report, Thailand shipped 6.11 million tonnes of grain last year, up 6.68% from 5.73 million tonnes the year before, with exports valued at 108 billion baht, down by 7.14% from 116 billion in 2020.
The shipments comprised 2.35 million tonnes of white rice (+18.9%), 1.4 million tonnes of Thai hom mali rice (-1.7%), 1.4 million tonnes of parboiled rice (+1.6%), 550,574 tonnes of aromatic rice (-4.1%) and 310,878 tonnes of glutinous rice (+12.4%).