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Surging freight rates propel Thai rice prices to 2-month peak

11/26/2020 | 09:53am EST
An ethnic Thai farmer works on her terraced rice field in Pu Luong

(Reuters) - Rice export prices in Thailand jumped to their highest in over two months this week on soaring container freight rates, while an appreciation in the rupee and improving demand buoyed prices for the staple in India.

Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $372-$378 per tonne, up from the last week's $366-$370.

"Demand is good for Indian rice since it is cheaper than other exporting countries," B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association (REA), said.

The rupee's appreciation has been forcing exporters to raise prices, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

In Thailand, benchmark 5% broken rice prices rose to $480-$490 per tonne from $475-$485 a week earlier, on higher freight rates in a shipping boom.

"The market is quiet but the freight rates are higher, making rice prices higher as well," a Bangkok-based trader said.

Vietnam's 5% broken rice prices were unchanged from a week earlier at $495-$500 per tonne.

"Shipments to China and the Philippines are picking up, but demand from other markets such as Malaysia and Africa remained weak," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Traders said farmers in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's largest rice growing area, had started sowing for the winter-spring crop, the largest of the year, a bit earlier to avoid a possible drought.

Bangladesh's rice output could fall 1% to 35.3 million tonnes in the current marketing year from a year earlier, mainly because of inclement weather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said earlier this month.

"Severe weather in Bangladesh, which started in May and ended in August, has impacted Bangladesh's rice production and moderately impacted Bangladesh's corn production," the report noted.

Bangladesh has started importing rice after a three year gap, by issuing two tenders to import a total of 100,000 tonnes.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok and Swati Verma in Bangalore; Editing by Mark Potter)

By Anjishnu Mondal

© Reuters 2020
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