Thai rice exports rising to fill global food gaps

Thailand’s rice exporters are predicting that they will ship 8 million tons this year, one million more than previously forecast, highlighting Thailand’s role in global food security.

Thailand has been one of the world’s top rice exporters for decades and a significant producer of corn, known in Asia as maize. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations uses Thailand’s grade B white rice as its global benchmark for estimating rice prices.

Rice is the staple grain in Asia. Global food prices tend to be driven by movements in the three staple grains: wheat, rice and corn. Analysts expect the ongoing tensions in Europe to create a shortage of wheat in coming months, which will affect other parts of the world. Wheat prices are already rising.

As the only net food exporter in Asia, Thailand potentially has an important role to play in making up for a shortfall in grains. In many countries, people can adjust their diets to substitute rice for wheat.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, Honorary President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said that the weaker Thai currency has given Thai rice another advantage over competitors aside from its higher quality.

“Any time Thai rice is priced equally with grains from other countries, importers in Asian countries would buy Thai rice. More importantly, the export market in the Middle East is also back this year,” Chookiat said.