With its competitive offerings, India is likely to maintain its dominance in the global rice market this fiscal year as well.
According to trade and industry experts, non-basmati rice exports are likely to increase last fiscal’s record shipments of 13.08 million tonnes (mt), or at the very least remain close to that level.
In addition to record non-Basmati cargoes, India, the world’s largest rice exporter, exported 4.6 million tonnes of Basmati rice. Rice exports totaled ₹ 65,297 crore in 2018-19, compared to ₹ 45,426 crore in 2019-20.
Panic in the face of a pandemic
However, export realizations may suffer as a result of the absence of panic purchases by some countries seen in the previous fiscal year.
‘Our exports of non-Basmati rice are doing well. Overall, shipments may be higher than last year, at around 14-15 mt,’ said Vinod Kaul, Executive Director of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA).
‘According to the Government’s preliminary estimates, rice exports have increased, owing primarily to non-Basmati shipments,’ he said.
‘Last year, importing countries purchased as a result of the panic caused by the Covid pandemic. These countries now have ample supplies. Purchasing could be based on a need. Importers may choose to buy only if prices are lower,’ says a New Delhi-based analyst.
As a result, Indian 5% broken parboiled rice prices have dropped by $5-7 (₹ 375-525) per tonne in the last few weeks. Currently, a tonne of Indian 5% parboiled rice costs $364-368 (₹ 27,250-27,525). Rice prices have now fallen to a 16-month low globally.
Basmati exports have taken a hit
Basmati exports, on the other hand, were 15% lower in April and continued in May, according to Kaul, who added that the drop was due to a container shortage and high ocean freight.
‘Our exports to Africa and Bangladesh remain strong. When compared to competitors, our prices are relatively competitive,’ a Mumbai-based trader stated.
‘This year, we could export about one million tonnes of non-Basmati rice to Bangladesh,’ said the trader.
Bangladesh, one of India’s largest non-basmati rice importers, purchased 0.91 million tonnes of rice last fiscal year. It was, however, less than the 1.84 million tonnes imported in 2017-18.
Tenders in Bangladesh
‘Every month, Bangladesh issues tenders for 50,000 tonnes of imports, and Indian firms win because their bids are the lowest,’ the trader explained. Paddy is currently being harvested in the neighboring country, which has caused the Sheikh Hasina government to slow the issuance of tenders.
‘Bangladesh traders say their government will begin regularly floating tenders in August,’ he said.
Furthermore, Indian trade could benefit from a 25% reduction in Bangladesh rice import duty, down from 62.5 percent in December of last year. Dhaka has also permitted private traders to import one million tonnes of rice, which may aid Indian shipments.
‘Private traders are not importing actively. The government is actively importing,’ the trader explained.
‘The arrival of the new crop in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is helping India’s exports. Despite Covid shutdowns, ports remained open, and railways moved freight on time. This has aided in maintaining export momentum,’ said BV Krishna Rao, President of The Rice Exporters Association (TREA).
According to a Delhi-based multinational export-import official, India exported 7-8 million tonnes of rice per year a few years ago. ‘However, as India has emerged strongly in the global export market, 10 mt has now become the new normal,’ he said.
According to the official, Thailand is out of the export market due to production issues, with Vietnam rice being the most expensive. ‘Myanmar is also out of the market due to unrest following the coup that occurred earlier this year,’ he explained.
Rates on offer
According to the International Grains Council, Thailand’s 5% broken white rice is offered at $401 (₹ 30,000) per tonne, while Vietnam’s 5% broken rice is offered at $395 (₹ 29,575) per tonne. As per the trade sources, India is selling 25% broken white rice for $385 (₹ 28,800).
According to the official, China will not import more this year.’China now has complete access to Myanmar rice. I will purchase it from there. Perhaps we will export one or two lots,’ said a representative from a multinational corporation.
The Mumbai-based trader, on the other hand, claimed that China obtained Indian rice indirectly from Vietnam. ‘Direct exports to China are restricted,’ he explained.
Non-Basmati rice, according to Kaul, is exported in break-bulk vessels, whereas Basmati rice is only exported in containers. As a result of container shortages and rising ocean freight rates, fragrant rice shipments have been hampered.
Excessive ocean freight
Break-bulk vessels currently charge $90-100 (roughly ₹ 6,750-7,500) per tonne to African destinations, while containers cost $125-135 (roughly ₹ 9,350-10,100) per tonne. These fees have more than doubled since the pre-Covid period.
All traders, including TREA’s Rao, believe India has an advantage due to record production in the last two seasons and a granary brimming with stocks. Rice output was a record 121.46 mt last season (July 2020-June 2021), up from 118.87 mt the previous year.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) had 29.68 mt of rice stocks as of July 1, in addition to 28.98 mt of paddy that could yield 19.28 mt of rice. FCI had 27.17 mt of rice stocks and 18.28 mt of paddy during the same period last year (12.16 mt rice).