KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US – Rice prices around the world have staged a small recovery in recent months, but still remain lower than they were at this time last year.

“Despite some recent signs of recovery, international rice prices have been generally subdued since May 2021, reflecting currency depreciations against the US dollar and efforts to attract fresh sales, held off by high freight costs and container shortages,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its twice yearly Food Outlook report, published in November. Its index of all rice prices was down by 9.7% in October compared with May and 7.9% lower than its October 2020 level.

FAO went into more detail in its Rice Price Update for November 2021, published Nov. 4, in which it said prices in October were 1.2% up from the previous month.

“Export prices edged up in all the major market segments in October,” it said. “For Indica and Glutinous rice, gains were in the order of 1.0%, as the onset of harvests in various Asian suppliers and currency movements tended to cap increases.”

Japonica prices were up by 1.6% on the month, with aromatic rice up 2.2% “reflecting some more support provided in these segments by lowered expected output of Basmati in India and tight short-grain supplies in Vietnam.”

“Export prices of Indica rice followed mixed trends in the major Asian exporters in October,” FAO said. “In India, quotations of white whole-grain rice slipped to 11-month lows, as the Rupee weakened against the US dollar and Kharif crops reached the harvesting stage. In Thailand, low demand and a weaker Baht tended to offset support provided by concerns over flood-induced damage to crops, keeping whole-grain prices little changed month-on-month.

“Market sentiment was firmer for fully broken rice in both origins, reflecting seasonally tight availabilities, which in the case of India were magnified by a record-breaking export pace to Asian and African destinations. Steady improvements in trading activities also buoyed offers in Pakistan and Vietnam, even though in the latter, following the lifting of COVID-19 lockdowns, trade concentrated on fulfilling previously sealed orders.”

FAO reported that “some disappointment over milling yields propped prices further up in the United States, while Uruguayan values steadied.”

“By contrast, efforts to attract buyers and weaker currencies lowered prices in Argentina and Brazil to one-year lows,” it said.

In its Grain: World Markets and Trade report of Nov. 9, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said that “over the past month, US quotes remained unchanged at $600 per tonne, while Uruguayan quotes dropped $35 to $545 per tonne due to ample supplies. “

A fall in prices quoted in Thailand to $385 per tonne, reflected “a return to normal market conditions following a surge of shipments in September and early October,” the report said. “Vietnamese prices trended up amid tight supplies and strong domestic demand, with an $8 increase to $433 per tonne.”

FAS put Pakistan price quotes $7 lower at $363 per tonne, influenced by the weakening rupee and continued container shortages.

“Indian prices rose $5, but remain very competitive at $355 per tonne, amid robust supplies and steady demand,” FAS said.

The International Grains Council’s version of price developments, in its Oct. 21 Grain Market Report, was that “international white and parboiled rice prices were mildly stronger,” month on month, with an increase of nearly 1%.

“Despite generally subdued demand, quotations in Thailand edged up as floods led to heightened concerns for the upcoming main season harvest,” it said, quoting 5% broken as being up by $3 per tonne, to $382 fob Bangkok.

“Vietnamese offers were supported by an upturn in activity and strong local demand following a relaxation of COVID-19-linked movement restrictions, with the 5% grade increasing by $8, to $428 fob Ho Chi Minh. In contrast, Indian offers were a touch softer, while fob values in Pakistan were steady.”