The Commerce Ministry has hitched services with Thai rice exporters and 40 Hong Kong importers to recoup market share for a major market Thai Hom Mali rice (jasmine rice) in Hong Kong.

Subsequently a conference including ministry officials, Thai rice traders, and 40 Hong Kong importers in Bangkok, Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said, “Thailand and Hong Kong had agreed to continue their trade and increase orders for Hom Mali rice. They said the price of Thai jasmine rice had become more competitive”.

Apiradi also stated,”The traders agreed that Thailand still has a chance to regain market share for Hom Mali rice as the price is now more competitive and Hong Kong buyers have high faith in the quality of Thai rice.”

Hong Kong importers have proposed that the Thai government boost confidence in Hom Mali rice to recapture market share for Thai rice by taking the certification logo in the Chinese language as well besides English.

Hong Kong rice traders have also revived Thai rice traders to connect an international food exhibition next year.

Apiradi mentioned “the government would continue to boost consumption of Thai rice by reaching out to end consumers, and would try to support hotels and restaurants that have a huge stock of Thai rice to serve their diners”.

Since 2008, when Thailand dominated 91 per cent of the Hong Kong market for imported perfumed rice, its share has dropped to about 40 per cent due to high prices.

Apiradi added that “Thai Hom Mali rice should regain its piece of the pie soon, thanks to close cooperation among the Thai government, Thai exporters and Hong Kong rice traders.”

According to the Customs Department, shipment of Thai Hom Mali rice to Hong Kong dropped 4.56 per cent during the first nine months of the year to 101,777 tonnes, from 106,642 tonnes last year.

Apiradi said Thailand should be able to ship the fourth lot of rice under its 1-million-tonne contract with mainland China next month. This shipment will include some Hom Mali rice from the 2014-15 main crop.

The trade ambassador, Witt Maneenetr, at the Thai Trade Office in Hong Kong, said Thailand’s share of the jasmine-rice market in city was estimated to rise by 2 % cent next year.

Hong Kong traders went to see Thai rice fields for the first time in 10 years so that they could have more assurance in Thai rice farming and production.

A source from the Thai Rice Exporters Association said it intended to incite Hong Kong traders to deal with more Thai rice by setting up a fund and providing a premium fee to traders with the highest volume.

The suggestion will be considered again afore determining whether to implement it.