Global rice exports surge in 2014

Increased exports of Thai rice to other countries in the Far East Asia and Africa is expected to propel Thai rice exports to 10.2mn tonnes in 2014. (Image source: Mike Gifford/Flickr)

Bumper produce and a surge in demand for rice, particularly in the Far East Asia, have resulted in 2014 recording the highest rice export figures globally, FAO has announced

While final figures wouldn’t be confirmed until early next year, FAO’s last quarterly report for 2014 Rice Market Monitor (RMM) indicated much of the forecast growth in 2014 global trade in rice was due to a surge in exports from Thailand, which regained the title of world’s top rice exporter.

“Indeed, a development dominating international rice trade in 2014 has been the resurgence of Thailand as a leading rice exporter, an advance made possible by key policy changes regarding government market intervention,” the report stated.

Increased exports of Thai rice to other countries in the Far East Asia and Africa is expected to propel Thai rice exports to 10.2mn tonnes in 2014, which, if confirmed, would stand only 500,000 tonnes short of the 2011 record exports.

“The ensuing restoration of its competitive edge has permitted Thailand to recapture much of the market share lost to India and Vietnam over the past two years,” it added.

The RMM predicted that rice deliveries by India will fall by five per cent to 10mn tonnes in 2014, depressed by a combination of heightened competition for markets and a reduction in demand in its major Basmati outlets. The export outlook is also bleak for Vietnam, the RMM stated, where official deliveries are now projected to remain close to the 2013 depressed level of 6.6mn tonnes, as the country is out-priced in Africa and rivalled by Thailand in important Far Eastern markets, such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Production remains steady
Despite regional variations, overall, global rice production had remained steady, down only slightly from the previous record-setting year. Weather conditions contributed to a 0.5 per cent decrease in Asia.

At 744.7mn tonnes (496.6mn tonnes, milled basis), the resulting 2014 global production forecast is expected to be only slightly lower this year compared with last year (down 0.2 per cent or 1.6mn tonnes), reflecting a 0.1 per cent contraction of both plantings and yields to 162.9mn hectares and 4.57 tonnes per hectare, respectively, brought about by unfavourable weather conditions.

Overall global trade in rice is expected to exceed 40mn tonnes in 2014 and could reach 40.5mn tonnes in the 2015 calendar year.

The anticipated growth in global rice trade in 2014 is forecast to be sustained by a near two million tonne surge in shipments to Asian countries to 18.9mn tonnes. At a country level, the increase mostly mirrored a resurgence of demand from the Philippines, in the aftermath of damages incurred as a result of typhoon Haiyan and depleted inventories. The country may close the year with delivery of 1.8mn tonnes, up 1.1mn tonnes year-on-year, part of which to reconstitute public rice reserves, the report stated.

Traditionally a self-sufficient nation, Sri Lanka has also been compelled to rely on supplies from abroad to compensate for significant production shortfalls, with 280,000 tonnes assessed to have been purchased by the country.