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Fragrant rice market promising

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Workers preparing rice for export. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The price of  Cambodia’s premium fragrant rice export market is promising compared with Thailand and Vietnam’s, according to a rice exporter.

Two types of the staple food, Phka Malis and Phka Rumduol 5 percent broken (the best quality) is $900 per tonne for their free-on-board (FOB) price while Thai Jasmine rice is $990 per tonne and Vietnamese Khao Dac Mali is $750 per tonne.

Regarding second-grade fragrant rice variety, Thai Pathum Thani fragrant rice is around $680 per tonne, Cambodian Sen Kro Ob variety is $780 per tonne and Vietnam jasmine rice is around $580 per tonne.

Thai white rice 5 percent broken price is around $510 per tonne and Cambodia’s is around $530 a tonne while Vietnam’s is around $487 per tonne.

The Vietnam Food Association (VFA), was quoted by Vietnam News (VNS), as saying that Vietnam rice export prices had continued to increase. Specifically, its 5 percent broken rice was $20 per tonne higher than Thailand’s in August.

Earlier this year, Thailand’s 5 percent broken white rice price was between $50 and $60 higher than the Vietnamese variety. By mid-August, Vietnam’s 5 percent broken white rice was trading at $493 to $497 per tonne, while the Thai variety stood at $473 to $477. A VFA official said: “It is the first time Vietnamese rice export prices have risen above Thailand in 30 years.”

Cambodia has competitive advantages on premium fragrant rice compared with Thailand while Vietnam does not have this kind of rice variety, said Chan Pich, general manager of Signatures of Asia, one of the leading rice exporters in Cambodia.  “Cambodia Sen Kro Ob variety is good in terms of the quality and it can sell the rice at a higher price compared with Thailand and Vietnam,” he added.

According to VNS, Vietnam’s rice exports have expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic to exceed rival Thailand in price for the first time in three decades, leading experts to suggest the sector should consolidate its position. They reported that Vietnamese rice exports reached 4.5 million tonnes worth $2.2 billion in the first eight months of 2020. Thailand is expected to export 6.5 million tonnes of rice this year and drop from third to fifth place on the list of global rice exporters in the next decade.

Cambodia’s milled rice exports in the first eight months is also on the rise, reaching  448,203 tonnes, increasing 31 percent compared with the same period in 2019 and receiving about $300 million in gross revenue.

China is Cambodia’s top rice export market at 159,253 tonnes, The European Union (the EU including the UK) takes 149,848 tonnes – 34 percent – of total Cambodia rice exports.

Signatures of Asia’s General Manager Pich said from January to May, Cambodia, Thailand, India and Vietnam saw rice exports increasing especially to the European market. However, from July to August, EU buyers start looking at Vietnam’s market because it has a quota to export milled rice to the EU based on the European-Vietnam free-trade agreement (EV-FTA). Therefore, buyers started purchasing more rice from Vietnam.

“From January to May, the exports of milled rice to the EU from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam were almost the same. However, from July to August this year, the EU started testing the Vietnamese market through the FTA, therefore, we can see that Vietnamese rice exports are growing,” Pich said.

He added that the EU’s orders for milled rice from Cambodia were slow in July and August. The reason was because some EU buyers were taking their summer holiday.

Pich added that Cambodian paddy this year will not provide a full harvest until next month, so exports fell in August and will do so in September. He added that Cambodia’s premium fragrant rice is running out of stock because it was selling from November 2019 until June this year. The Sen Kro Ob variety is also running out of stock.

“Our sales of these rice varieties is good. Now we are waiting for the next harvest in October and November for the premium fragrant Malis and Romdoul rice varieties,” Pich added.

Cambodia Rice Feder- ation’s Secretary-General Lun Yeng said the price of Vietnamese rice is too low compared with Thailand and Cambodia. Therefore, it is hard to compete with Vietnam. He added that Vietnam can produce up to ten tonnes per hectare, has a low cost of transport and a tariff-free status with the EU market, giving it advantages.

He added that Cambodia is studying the market trend of Cambodian rice exports. “We are now reserving funds to buy paddy from farmers for the upcoming harvest season and working on new rice seedlings which have greater resilience to climate change,” Yeng said.


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