Thai rice prices rose this week because of demand from Nigerian buyers unhappy over port congestion in India, while Vietnamese prices were pushed up by demand from China, traders said on Wednesday.
Thai parboiled rice jumped 11 percent to $612 per tonne from last week’s $550 because of the Nigerian demand.
“I think Nigeria sealed deals to buy nearly 100,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Thai exporters after India faced port congestion,” said one Bangkok-based trader.
That dragged up prices across the board in Thailand.
Its benchmark 100 percent B grade white rice rose to $560 per tonne from last week’s $540.
However, overall Thai exports were in the doldrums as prices were rendered uncompetitive by a government intervention scheme, encouraging buyers to turn to Vietnam and India, whose grain is around $100 a tonne cheaper.
Thai exports have fallen to 1.07 million tonnes so far this year, half the 2.15 million tonnes in the same period last year.
That trend has had an unanticipated effect.
Exporters have started up their own brands and are packaging their grain to try to sell it at home.
“The number of new rice retailers has increased significantly.
Now we can see 20 new brands of rice sold on the shelves,” said Somkiat Makcayathon, president of Thai Rice Packers Association, which groups rice retailers.
Another outcome could be that Thailand loses its position as the world’s top rice exporter this year, probably to Vietnam.
Thailand is forecast to ship 7 million tonnes at best in 2012, far below the record of 10 million in 2011.
VIETNAMESE PRICES BOOSTED Prices in Vietnam, currently the world’s second-biggest exporter, have also risen, largely due to increasing demand from neighbouring China, traders said.
Export prices rose by up to 3 percent in the past week before the start of an industry stockpiling scheme, they said.
“Farmers are holding on to their grain before the purchase starts and there are also cargoes being loaded for China, so prices have risen this week,” a trader at a foreign trading firm in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Export companies will buy 2 million tonnes of winter-spring paddy from Thursday until April 30 for stockpiling and will keep the grain off the market until June 15 under a government-sponsored scheme
The 5 percent broken rice jumped to $425-$430 a tonne, free on board, up 3 percent from last week’s $410-$420 a tonne.
The 25 percent broken rice edged up 1.3 percent to $380-$400 a tonne.
So far this year, Vietnam has contracted to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to China, and grain also goes to its northern neighbour via cross-border trade, which is often not reflected in official statistics.
Traders estimated the real volume exported to China could be at least double the amount reached by adding up the contracts registered with the Vietnam Food Association.
China imported 309,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam in 2011, almost 150 percent more than the 124,500 tonnes bought in 2010.
Vietnamese customs data showed.