Thursday, September 16

Strict Covid restrictions spark panic buying of rice in Bangladesh

Rice export prices from top Asian hubs fell this week as Vietnamese and Thai traders tried to compete with relatively low Indian offers, while a virus-led lockdown in Bangladesh boosted domestic rates.

Amid a record spike in coronavirus cases this week, the Bangladeshi government tightened lockdown measures, prompting panic buying of the staple.

The country’s state grains buyer has issued an international tender to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice by railway.

In India, rates of 5 per cent broken parboiled variety fell to $367-$371 per tonne, their lowest since November 2020, versus last week’s $369-$373.

“Rupee is allowing us to lower prices. Local rice prices have also been going down due to government’s decision to release stocks,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

In Vietnam, rates for 5 per cent broken rice fell to $470-$475 a tonne from $478-$482 a week earlier.

“Local exporters have to cut their offered prices to compete with exporters from Thailand and India,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Meanwhile, rapidly spreading Covid-19 infections in southern Vietnam is hampering the transport of rice, traders said.

Vietnam’s rice exports in the first half of this year are estimated to have fallen 14.8 per cent from a year earlier, government data showed.

Thailand’s 5 per cent broken rice prices narrowed to $420-$422 per tonne on Thursday from $420-$430 a week ago – the lowest levels since late 2019.

Traders say demand has been flat because the prices for Thai variety remain higher than competitors. Firmer cargo freight rates have also kept the prices high.

“It is difficult to find ship now and freight price have doubled in recent months which make its harder for exporters to sell,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

Traders say there is no current issue with supply and attribute the exchange rate as another factor for the price fluctuation.

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