Thai rice exports drop to third in the world, Vietnam close behind
Rice exports plunged 23 per cent year on year in volume and value in the first quarter of 2021, relegating Thailand to third place among top rice exporting countries.
Customs Department data for January to March 2021 showed export of 1,131,944 tons of rice, worth THB21.80 billion (US$732.9 million), amounting to a 23 per cent drop in export volume and a 23.6 fall in value.
In the same period in 2020, Thailand had exported 1,469,664 tons, worth THB28.53 billion ($939.0 million).
Rice exports in March 2021 amounted to 302,668 tons worth THB6.262 billion. Export volume and value declined 25.8 per cent and 18.8 per cent respectively compared with 407,800 tonnes of export in February 2021, worth THB7.716.
Thailand's rice exports now rank third behind India and Pakistan. With Thai exports only about 30,000 tons higher than Vietnam, there is a chance that Vietnam will topple Thailand from third place.
Experts said Thailand still had problems with container shortage, rising freight costs and other expenses. Moreover, the price of Thai rice, especially white and parboiled rice, is much higher than that of India and Pakistan. As a result, orders from abroad have decreased considerably compared to the normal times.
In March 2021, only 87,305 tonnes of white rice were exported, down 49.2 per cent
compared to the previous month, mostly to Cameroon, Japan, Mozambique, Guinea, Malaysia and Benin.
Meanwhile, exports of parboiled rice were only 60,803 tons, down 22.3 per cent month on month.
Most of them were exported to major markets such as South Africa, Benin, Cameroon, etc.
Export of jasmine rice amounted to 90,508 tons, down 9.6 per cent month on month. Most of them were shipped to main markets, such as the United States, Hong Kong, China and Canada.
The Thai Rice Exporters Association expects that in April 2021, the export volume of rice will be around 400,000 tons, a level that Thailand can export despite fierce price competition. This is because Thailand's rice prices are still higher than their main competitors, especially India, which has the lowest rice prices in the market, about US$90-120 lower than Thailand.
Thai 5% broken white rice is priced at $493 per ton. Meanwhile, 5% white rice prices of Vietnam, India and Pakistan were at $488-492, 398-402 and 438-442 per ton respectively. Thai parboiled rice was priced at $496 per ton. While parboiled price of India and Pakistan were $368-372 and 441-445 per ton respectively, which led to Thailand losing the white and parboiled rice markets to India.
Over the past year, India has exported nearly 2 million tons of rice per month and is expected to export around 15-16 million tons this year.