Rice prices in Thailand rose on thin supply while trade in Vietnam remained sluggish, traders said on Thursday.Thai benchmark 5-percent broken rice rose this week to $360-$375 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, from $350-$365 a tonne last week. The hike in prices occurred as the Thai government encouraged rice millers to buy the grain in a bid to prevent an oversupply when new crops are harvested.Thailand has exported over 3.48 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of rice worth more than 51 billion baht ($1.49 billion) so far this year until April 18, up 6.4 percent from the year-ago period. According to the commerce Ministry, the government has offloaded over 12 million tonnes of rice, which were accumulated under a previous civilian government’s rice subsidy scheme and it mayclear the stocks in 2017. At present, there is about 5 million tonnes in state stockpiles, out of which only 1.72 MMT fit for human consumption.
However in Vietnam, the market maintained a quiet momentum amid low competitive prices, which fall between prices of new and old Thai grain.Prices of the 5-percent broken rice remained stable at $350-$355 a tonne, FOB Saigon.”Customers who focus more on prices will choose old Thai rice as it is cheaper, while buyers who look for quality will choose new Thai rice as it is just a bit higher than Vietnamese rice but of better quality,” said a Ho Chi Minh-based trader.Traders expect Vietnam’s rice export to be lower this month compared with the same period a year earlier.Thailand and Vietnam are the world’s second- and third-biggest rice exporters.