Market Update: Bearish WASDE Report as U.S. Harvest Continues

September 22, 2023
The USDA published a bearish WASDE report this week with the outlook for the U.S. showing an increase of supplies, exports, domestic use, and ending stocks. Carryover was increased 23% from 19.6 million cwt up to 24.1 million cwt. Supplies bumped on account of stocks being raised 5.7 million cwt, and production being raised by 17.3 million cwt. The average yield for this year’s harvest is up, pegged at 7,751 lbs/acre. This is good news, but we need solid milling yields in order to provide a quality product to our customers. The new season average farm price has been moved to $16.80/cwt, down $.90/cwt from last month. Apparently the trade believes the demand side but the supply assessment has some questions as the market has gone up $.77/cwt since the report. Some in the trade feel there may be some double dipping since the new crop harvest was earlier due to the hot weather, meaning new crop contributed to old crop carryover. There is an effort to clarify this point. 
The global rice outlook from the WASDE calls for reduced supplies, consumption, trade, and stocks based on detrimental weather patterns and trade policies that are restricting exports. Despite this, global supplies only dropped 4.4 million tons, but the real news is the reduced global trade. This month, the expectation is a reduction to 52.2 million tons, down only 1.5%. Expect to see this number increase as the fullness of the export ban is realized in the coming weeks and months.
The September FAO Rice Price update unsurprisingly jumped 9.8% in August, reaching 142.4 points, or 31.4% higher than last year. Prices have not been this high since the 2008 food crisis, which also was predicated by an Indian white rice export ban. But as more news comes out about climate risk, drought, and production problems, the export ban seems to be more of just the first domino to fall. Thailand has suffered poor rains that have impacted rice production, the Philippines have renewed imports after a multi-year hiatus, and several other countries are left scrambling to secure supplies moving into the fourth quarter of the year. 
Attracting less attention in the global market, but more important to our locale, is the 10-12% price jump in South America. Recall that earlier in the year, price convergence of U.S. to South American prices was to mean that the U.S. long grain price would fall; global events now declare otherwise. The chart here tells the story and you can see that convergence in the current climate means that Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay have all shot up to nearly $700 pmt to meet the U.S. export price, which is excellent news as harvest is underway.
Iraq, quickly becoming one of our most important customers, has renewed restrictions on their rice production due to water shortages. Harvested area is expected to be only 20,000 acres; the rest is being imported. The price chaos in India, Thailand, and Vietnam has sent them straight back the U.S., where we are excited to field the business and compete on the world stage again.
For a quick glance at harvest, Arkansas has jumped to almost 50% harvested this week, with 71% showing in good to excellent condition. Initial yields are strong, which will help offset disappointments in Louisiana and Texas. Mississippi bumped up to 53% completed from 32% last week, and Missouri is officially underway now over 15% completed. Some of the earliest fields are being harvested in California with mixed results on yields, which can be normal this early. Because of the late planting in California and the relatively cool growing season, the crops are not maturing as fast as normal, and yields are expected to be off.
In Asia, prices are settling down now that the panic is subsiding and a “new normal.” Thai prices are reported down to $625pmt, and Viet prices at $620pmt. Pakistan is still sub-$600 at $580pmt. 
The export sales report this week shows net sales of 67,200 MT, up noticeably from last week and 58% from the prior 4-week average. Exports of 79,000 MT were up 67% from the previous week and up noticeably from the prior 4-week average.
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