Thailand topped the list of the world’s biggest rice exporters in the first quarter, shipping 2.85 million tonnes of the grain, a 34% year-on-year increase.
The Thai Rice Exporters Association said Friday that the 44 billion baht in rice exports marked a 23% increase in value over the same period in 2015.
By comparison, India shipped 2.3 million tonnes of rice from January-March while Vietnam exported 1.4 million tonnes, Pakistan 1.3 million tonnes and 820,000 tonnes by the United States.
However, Vietnamese customs data released on Wednesday showed the world's No.3 rice exporter shipped 1.55 million tonnes. The country said it expects second-quarter exports to top 1.6 million tonnes.
India's export volume was estimated to have risen 2% in the quarter, while that of Vietnam rose by 58% and 4% by the US. Pakistan's export volume dropped 9%.
In the first quarter, the five biggest buyers of Thai rice were Indonesia (317,100 tonnes, an 877% annual increase), Ivory Coast (272,354 tonnes, up 86%), Benin (266,246 tonnes, up 426%), China (257,708 tonnes, up 86%) and Cameroon (191,846 tonnes, up 251%).
In March alone, the country exported 990,864 tonnes of rice worth 15.2 billion baht, rising 26% by volume and 17% by value year-on-year. In the month, exporters delivered white rice to governments in China, Indonesia and the Philippines and broken rice to African nations.
The association estimated the rice export at 700,000-750,000 tonnes in April due to the Songkran holidays.
Without government-to-government rice deals, rice sales in traditional markets did not increase much because the purchasing power of African countries remains low, the association said.