September 12, 2019 / 1:17 PM / a month ago

Vietnam rice prices plunge to near 12-year low as demand dries up

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Vietnamese rice export rates slumped to their lowest in nearly 12 years this week on sluggish demand, while an appreciating rupee helped rates for the Indian variety.

FILE PHOTO: A farmer harvests rice by a paddy field outside Hanoi, Vietnam June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice prices fell to $325 per tonne, their lowest since November 2007, versus last week’s $325-$330 range.

The lack of fresh deals, especially due to waning interest from the Philippines, amid expectations that the major buyer could cut down on imports to support local farmers, have squeezed the Vietnamese market, with prices now about 13% lower compared to the beginning of the year.

“Demand remains very weak this week,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Meanwhile, only 82,450 tonnes of rice are scheduled to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City ports during September 1-15, with most shipments bound for West Africa and Philippines, traders said. 

Top-exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety rose to $370-$376 per tonne from $369-$374 a week ago, amid good demand from African nations and a resurgent rupee.

Local paddy supplies are limited and prices are firm, forcing exporters to increase rates, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The rupee rose to an over three-week high on Thursday.

The country’s rice exports in April-July, however, had plunged 26.5% from a year ago to 3.14 million tonnes, a government body said on Monday.

Meanwhile, prices for second-biggest exporter Thailand’s benchmark 5% broken rice fell to $400-$418 a tonne on Thursday, from $410-$422 last week.

“There was new supply that entered the market last month after the harvest, but the flat demand means prices have been dropping,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

However, concerns over supply still persist after flash floods caused by tropical storm Podul damaged over 240,000 hectares of agriculture land, months after a long drought hit the country’s rice-growing region.

“Prices could fluctuate further as the extent of the impact from the drought and flood becomes clearer on rice supply,” another trader said, adding “but even with this price drop, Thai prices are still higher than Vietnam and India.”

Thai exporters have struggled since the start of the year as a strong baht kept prices high compared to competitors.

At an average of $409, Thai rice was still near its highest since June 2018.

Bangladesh, which was still recovering from a devastating flood, could lose more crops as its weather office has forecast more floods this month.

Floods in July washed away crops that would have yielded nearly 400,000 tonnes of rice, agriculture ministry estimates showed.

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

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