SINGAPORE: Pakistan's rice exports to China have risen to about 800,000 tonnes in the year to September 2012 from negligible volumes a year ago, as the grain wins popularity for its taste and low price, traders and industry officials said on Wednesday.
Rice is the staple food in the world's second largest economy, and Pakistani rice started making inroads into China in 2011 as a cheaper alternative to domestic and imported rice.
Chinese buyers prefer Pakistani rice over Vietnamese grades, even though it takes longer to arrive, the traders added.
China is the world's biggest rice producer and consumer.
"They have liked the taste and aroma of Pakistani white rice and the prices are very attractive," said a trader with an international trading company in Singapore.
"Looking at the demand and prices, we expect Pakistan to become a regular exporter of rice to China."
The price of 5 percent broken Pakistani rice in the Chinese market is around $435 a tonne, including cost and freight, compared with domestic prices of more than $500 a tonne.
"Pakistani rice is really competitive in the Chinese market as the freight is notoriously low. It is below $10 a tonne," another trader said on the sidelines of a grains conference in Singapore.
The lower moisture level of Pakistani rice, which enhances its shelf life, has also boosted its popularity in China.
"They can keep it for a longer period and when they cook it, the rice is fluffier," said an industry official from Bangkok.