Indian rice continues to get good enquiries from the global market with European nations and Egypt joining the list of nations looking for the cereal from the sub-continent, traders say. The development comes on the heels of prices stabilising in the market.

Reports from Cairo said Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) floated a global tender to import 25,000 tonnes of white rice and three of the four bidders offered Indian rice.

“European nations have emerged as new buyers of Indian parboiled rice. Enquiries are coming in from countries such as France,” said VR Vidya Sagar, Director, Bulk Logix. 

Rise despite export tax

The demand for Indian rice is despite its offer prices ruling firm and Thailand cutting its rates by over $40 a tonne in the past month. Exports continue to be good despite the Indian government imposing a 20 per cent duty on shipments of white rice. 

“We are seeing demand re-emerging for Indian rice after witnessing a slump in the past three months. Demand is for both white (raw) and parboiled (boiled) rice,” said BV Krishna Rao, President, The Rice Exporters Association of India (TREA). 

“The Indian kharif rice crop is good. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is set to meet its procurement target this year. Our exports of non-basmati rice should be able to top 18 million tonnes (mt) easily this year,” said New Delhi-based exporter Rajesh Paharia Jain.

Pak, Thailand gain

Despite the Indian government imposing a duty on exports of white rice and banning shipments of fully broken rice, rice exports, including Basmati, were estimated to have been 21.9 mt in 2022. 

Pakistan and Thailand, whose exports jumped 22 per cent in 2022 to 7.69 mt from 6.3 mt in 2021, gained from the Indian curbs on rice shipments imposed from September 8. 

Islamabad gained more from shipping rice, including broken rice to China. Earlier this week, the Thai Rice Exporters Association fixed an export target of 7.5 mt for 2023 despite the rise in exports.

Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture estimated rice production at a record high of 130.83 mt despite kharif production being projected lower by nearly 3 mt.  On the other hand, the Food Corporation of India has procured 47 mt of wheat against the government’s target of 52.1 mt.

“Rice production has been made up by Telangana,” said Bulk Logix’s Sagar. 

Still competitive

“Rice prices have stabilised of late, but there could be a further rise in prices as there is a supply shortage. Currently, prices have stabilised as Thailand’s new crop has entered the market and it has cut prices,” said a New Delhi-based trade analyst.

Despite Thailand cutting prices by nearly 10 per cent over the past month, Indian rice is still competitive, said Jain.  “We will still be the number 1 exporter despite curbs on shipments. We are seeing demand from African nations, but the movement of white rice is less,” said Sagar.

“The Centre is also gaining from exports as it gets the duty on shipments,” said Rao, adding that despite cutting prices, Thailand did not pose any problem to Indian rice.

M Madan Prakash, President, Agri Commodities Exporters Association, said supply was slow to ports, especially on the western coast. “There are issues with Customs in sending feed quality,” he said. 

Rao said Thailand was willing to lower its parboiled rice price to $460, while Sagar said Indian parboiled is quoted at $390-410 a tonne.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, non-basmati exports in the first nine months of the current fiscal were 13.17 mt valued at $4.66 billion compared with 12.59 mt valued at $4.51 billion a year ago. 

Rice prices have increased in the global market on projections of the lower crop in India, Pakistan, China and Bangladesh. On the other hand, Indonesia and the Philippines have begun buying significant volume in the market.