Rice sacks at the marketFile photo

Rice export prices rose across major Asian hubs this week on robust demand emerging out of Indonesia, with some buyers switching to the cheaper Indian variety.

Vietnam’s 5 per cent broken rice was offered at $440-$445 per tonne, free-on-board, up from $438 a week ago.

“Prices are rising on strong demand, especially from Indonesia’s food procurement agency Bulog,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

“The rise in Vietnam’s prices could have prompted a Cuban buyer to switch to buy cheaper grain from India,” the trader said, adding a vessel is loading 28,000 tonnes at Kakinada port, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh for delivery to Cuba.

Moreover, traders said domestic supplies are running low, which will likely keep Vietnamese rice prices at high levels over the next few weeks.

Top exporter India’s 5 per cent broken parboiled variety was quoted at $375 to $380 per tonne, up from last week’s $373-$378.

“Indian rice is available at a discount. It is prompting buyers to switch to India from other supplying countries,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.

India’s exports of premium basmati rice are likely to jump 15 per cent over last year as key buyers in the Middle East build their inventories.

Thailand’s 5 per cent broken rice prices rose to $427-$440 per tonne this week from $419-$425 last week, with traders attributing the gains to news of new deals on the table.

“Prices surged from last week after talks of Indonesia wanting to buy 1,000 to 2,000 tons of rice,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

Another trader said that local importers are also stocking up ahead of the year-end, adding to the price gains.

Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi delegation is visiting Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia this week seeking rice imports, a senior food ministry official said, as the country struggles to build reserves.