Laborers unload sacks of rice from a handcart at a wholesale market in Kolkata, India, December 14, 2015. (Reuters Photo/Rupak De Chowdhuri)

Asia Rice: India Prices Climb on Bangladesh Demand; Thailand-Vietnam Markets Muted


DECEMBER 15, 2017

Bengaluru. Rice prices in India jumped this week, helped by strengthening demand from Bangladesh, while markets in Thailand and Vietnam remained relatively quiet with lackluster demand ahead of upcoming year-end holidays.

India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices gained by $10 per tonne to $416-$419 per tonne.

"Sentiments have improved due to the demand from Bangladesh. Traders are speculating it could buy more in the first quarter of the next year," an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said.

Bangladesh, which has emerged as a major importer of the grain this year after floods damaged its crops, will import 150,000 tonnes of rice from India in a state deal priced at $440 a tonne, two food ministry officials said last week.

Meanwhile, India's paddy rice supply from new season crop has started rising, but aggressive government buying has been keeping prices firm, exporters said.

The appreciating rupee also forces exporters to raise prices for overseas buyers, said another exporter based in Kakinada. A stronger rupee trims exporters' returns.

Meanwhile, demand in Thailand and Vietnam remained weak as Christmas and New Year holidays in some importing countries kept buyers away from the market, but exporters were optimistic about the fresh deals.

"As it is approaching the end of the year, buyers are not active at the moment," said a Bangkok-based trader.

Thailand's benchmark 5 percent broken rice eased to $390-$400, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, from $401-$405 a tonne last week.

Traders remain hopeful as the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council is to resume gradual political engagement with Thailand, and there are possibilities for resuming talks on an EU-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"If the EU-Thailand FTA materializes, this should help boost Thai rice exports to the EU a bit. However, the EU isn't currently a big buyer of Thai rice," said the Bangkok-based trader.

In Vietnam, benchmark 5-percent broken rice was quoted at $390-$400, compared with $395 a week earlier.

Traders said some private importers from Philippines have approached Vietnamese traders for rice deal talks, as Philippines' National Food Authority approved their import quotas under the country's Minimum Access Volume 2017 program.

"This year's quota seems to be lower. I think Filipino importers might buy around 50,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam," a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

However, another trader said buyers would wait for fresh supply and better offers when the major winter-spring crop season completes in February.