Grain gain: Thailand set to overtake India as top rice exporter

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 10:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 11:06pm

Thailand is set to reclaim its status as the world's top rice exporter as weak monsoon rains reduce India's crop. That will help the new military government offload bulging stockpiles.

Lower Indian exports would allow Bangkok to win better prices for the grain that it has been selling at a huge discount, curbing losses on the stocks built up under a costly state intervention scheme.

"It is a good opportunity for Thailand to manage its huge stocks at competitive prices," said Kiattisak Kallayasirivat, managing director of Bangkok-based Novel Agritrading.

Thai rice prices fell to a discount versus Vietnam grades for the first time in decades earlier this year as the previous Yingluck Shinawatra-led government aggressively sold from stockpiles.

Prices have since risen to par or premiums after the junta stopped sales to inspect the quality of the rice pile.

Thailand plans to export 500,000-600,000 tonnes of rice a month from August. At that rate, it will take about three years to sell the 18 million tonnes built under the rice-buying scheme introduced by the Yingluck government that was ousted in May.

With poor rains cutting Indian supply, Thai rice exports could hit 10 million tonnes this year, near a record 10.6 million tonnes sold in 2011, said Duangporn Rodphaya, director general of Thai Commerce Ministry's Department of Foreign Trade.