Market Update - U.S. Rice Market Needing an Export Boost

November 4, 2022
The market marches on with little change from last week. Domestic business is keeping the mills busy, while exports are “off the table” for the time being to Haiti or Iraq. Paddy prices remain firm in all regions, though it would appear there is a softening coming if our export demand doesn’t pick up a bit. And to say that paddy prices are firm could be a bit misleading; the market is relatively thin right now with minimal activity, but that is to say, prices haven’t dropped by any significant margin in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Missouri. They all remain in the $17/cwt range. In Texas, the harvest of the second crop is slowly getting underway, but it will take until the end of November to get a good handle on how things are shaping up here.
There was USDA GAIN Report published this week on India and Thailand. While we don’t compete directly with these eastern markets, they do set the global price well below U.S. prices, where the spread between the Eastern exporters and the U.S. seems to be testing new highs each week.
In India, the GAIN report expects rice production to be down 6% this year, which equates to 122 million metric tons. This is on account of unseasonal rains in October that resulted in poor harvest conditions. The monsoon was also a bit more sporadic than normal, which resulted in more volatile conditions and decreased yields overall. Milled rice quotes from India have increased since they announced their selective export ban, with prices now hovering around $385 pmt. U.S. long grain prices have seen quotes at $725 pmt, which results in a spread of $340. 
The USDA GAIN report from Thailand revised total rice production to be down slightly to 19.9 million metric tons because of field damage resulting from floods. It is estimated that about 210,000 acres of main crop rice were damaged as a result of Typhoon Noru, and this accounts for the majority of the loss. Despite this, the report indicates that Thailand is still expected to export 7.5 MMT of rice this year, which is 23% higher than last year. This is a result of a weakening Thai baht, available supply, and recovery from the pandemic. While the weak baht and available supply are attractive to a competitive rice price, there is still a challenge with high freight costs. Thai export prices have been hovering at $410 pmt, compared to the U.S. long-grain at $725 pmt, which results in a spread of $315 pmt.
And finally some good news in the weekly USDA export sales report. Net sales skyrocketed to 119,200 MT this week, an increase of 202%. Exports registered at 101,000 MT, another 207% increase there. There is certainly catching up to do, and this is a welcome development.
Mercosur rice continues with an important presence in Mexico and Central America, however, the tightening of supplies, the dollar in Brazil along with the fallout from the recent presidential election are contributing to a much more difficult marketplace. The Mercosur rice crop continues the planting process and is anticipated to be what is considered a good size crop. The CONMASUR organization made up of the major rice mills in the 5 Mercosur countries will be having their regular meeting in Asuncion, Paraguay later this month. The numbers to be released by each country is certainly of interest to the market and the RA will report them accordingly.
In the futures market, the average daily volume slipped by 6.36% down to 1,710. Open Interest also fell, down to 7,226 or a drop of 12.1%.
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