Market Update: Rice Sales to Iraq Help Alleviate Harvest Pressure

October 12, 2018

Things have become more lively in the rice industry over the week as more information becomes available and the market factors appear to be more favorable to movement. The export sales report for the week reported low volume for the current installment, a roughly 70% decrease over the volume of the previous report. Of note is the sale to Iraq that should show up on the next week’s report of a much needed 90,000 MT. This sale, while much anticipated, will help to alleviate some of the pressure on the industry resulting from a large 2018 crop. Vessel tonnage was up from the previous report, and as a percentage increase looks to be very positive. From a tonnage perspective, the increases were marginal but as additional sales show up to be shipped, in addition to the volume already on the books, this figure should be stronger in the weeks to come.

Asian pricing generally appreciated over the week for the benchmark origins. Most, if not all, of the changes, were due to currency valuation changes but the firmness at current levels indicates that there is some stability at this time. The USDA World Market Price estimate for the week saw increases for both long and medium/short grain classes. Given the general direction of the market over the past weeks, this adjustment was somewhat predictable. Again, given the stability of the market currently, the probability of further significant increases is limited.

In the domestic cash markets, very little has changed in most areas with bids remaining in stagnation due to harvest and storage pressure in the various regions. From a production standpoint, the harvest in the Upper Delta continues to roll in and estimates peg that it is almost three-quarters complete in aggregate. Along the Gulf Coast, unseasonably heavy rainfall has delayed the second crop progress to the point that quality and yield are becoming seriously affected. The futures market has had an extremely good with the advent of positive marketing news. All of the open contracts on the board posted positive gains nearing 9% over last Friday’s close. The reasoning for the positive movement is multifold. The finalizing of the USMCA agreement early in the week set the market off to a positive start and the eleventh-hour sales in the export market went on to further the gains. Next Thursday sees the monthly WASDE report from USDA that will have some market changing impacts. Some expectations in the report include revisions to the projected yield numbers as well as export and stock projections.

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