June 11, 2020 / 5:12 PM / 23 days ago

Thai rice prices hit 1-month peak on strong baht, supply woes

(Reuters) - Thai rice export prices rose to their highest in about a month this week due to a strong baht currency and persistent supply concerns, losing out to cheaper offers from other Asian hubs.

A worker uses his feet to spread rice for drying at a rice mill on the outskirts of Kolkata, India, January 31, 2019.Picture taken January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

Quotes for Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices rose to $505-$533 per tonne on Thursday - the highest level since early May - from $490-$512 last week.

“Our prices are higher than all of our competitors thanks to the strong baht which makes it hard to find buyers,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

The baht hit a more than four month high, translating into higher export prices in U.S. dollars.

Supply concerns also persist in the domestic market despite rain that helped soften the blow from one of the worst droughts in decades earlier this year, adding to the rise in prices, another trader said.

In Vietnam, rates for the benchmark 5% broken rice remained at their highest since early 2012, at $475 per tonne, as demand remains steady though supplies rose.

“The Philippines’ recently completed rice purchase and the build-up in domestic supplies have kept export prices from rising further,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Vietnam exported 3.09 million tonnes of rice in the first five months of the year, up 12.2% from the year-earlier period.

Prices of top exporter India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety were also unchanged at $368-$373 per tonne, the lowest in over two months, amid weak demand.

The new season supplies have started in a few Indian states, but export demand is negligible, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

India has raised the price at which it will buy new-season common rice varieties from local farmers by 2.9%.

Neighbouring Bangladesh, the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, will speed up rice procurement to secure supplies for relief operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said.

The virus has infected 78,052 people and killed 1,049 in Bangladesh as of Thursday.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; editing by Arpan Varghese and Nick Macfie

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