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PH seen as world’s 3rd largest rice buyer

THE PHILIPPINES is expected to be among the top four largest importer of milled rice in 2015 with orders totaling 1.7 million tons, data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show.

The volume is 100,000 tons less than projections by the United Nations, whose Food and Agriculture Organization said the country was expected to ship in 1.8 million tons—the same volume that was imported in 2014.

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According to the Rice Yearbook 2015 of the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), the Philippines will tie with Iran this year as the world’s third largest rice importer by volume.

Based on data current as of March 10, the top two importers were China with 4.5 million tons and Nigeria.

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The expected Philippine importation is almost 100,000 tons higher than the 15-year average of 1.6 million tons since 2000.

During the past 15 years, Philippine-bound volume was lowest in 2000 at 900,000 tons and highest in 2008 at 2.5 million tons.

In its latest monthly Rice Outlook report, the USDA ERS said the global volume of trade in milled rice jumped 10 percent to a record 43.2 million tons in 2014, partly due to increased importation by the Philippines.

Based on the USDA’s monitoring, the latest figure on global trade was 300,000 tons more than the previous estimate.

The record trade level of 2014 was largely due to expanded shipments from India and Thailand more than offsetting reduced shipments from Pakistan, Vietnam, and the United States, the ERS said.

“On the import side, big increases in purchases by Bangladesh, China, the European Union, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Turkey more than offset weaker purchases by Brazil, Iran, Iraq, South Korea, and Thailand,” the ERS added.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s rice reserve shrank for the second month in a row to settle at 69 days’ worth of consumption as of Feb. 1.

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Inventory fell to 2.35 million tons from 2.66 million tons last Jan. 1 as farmers prepare for the fields for this year’s dry season crop.

Data from the PSA show that the National Food Authority’s stock of milled rice climbed even further to 530,000 tons from 520,000 tons, although 97 percent of this was imported.

As of Feb. 1, the NFA had a stock that was still at its minimum mandated volume, at 15 days’ consumption.

Last February, the NFA called for tenders on the importation of 250,000 tons of well-milled rice, with the budget set at P9.5 billion. Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce as well as Vietnam Southern Food Corp. gave the best offers.

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