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MUMBAI/BANGKOK: Prices of rice shipped from India held at their highest in nearly two years for a second straight week, helped by robust demand as local dealers continued to offer the staple at more competitive rates in comparison with other Asian hubs.

India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $387 to $395 per tonne this week, unchanged from last week.

“Buyers are finding Indian rice cheaper than other destinations despite the recent rise in prices,” said a Mumbai-based exporter. Supplies in India are also tightening after New Delhi decided to end its COVID-era free food programme and replace it with a cheaper programme.

Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $500 per tonne, also similar to levels reached last week and a peak since March 2021.

Traders attributed the elevated price levels to the strong baht, which cuts margins for dealers for overseas sales and thereby prompts them to hike rates.

“New demand is limited because the price is higher than India rice. Supply is declining too because it was the last crop,” said a Bangkok-based trader. “If the baht continues to appreciate,

Thai rice exports can miss the target,” he said. Last week, Thailand’s rice exporter association lowered its 2023 rice export target to 7.5 million tonnes from 8 million due to the strong baht. Markets in Vietnam remained closed this week for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Last week, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $445-$450 per tonne.

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