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Global rice prices surge to 15-year high – FAO Report



In a recent report, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that global rice prices surged to a 15-year high in August.

This surge was primarily driven by the export ban imposed by India, the world’s leading rice exporter, on certain overseas sales of grain.

Despite a general easing in global food prices in August, rice prices experienced a significant uptick of 9.8% compared to the previous month.

The FAO attributed this rise to “trade disruptions in the aftermath of a ban on Indica white rice exports by India,” as outlined in their monthly report.

The uncertainty surrounding the duration of India’s export ban and concerns about export restrictions prompted supply-chain stakeholders to either retain stocks, renegotiate contracts, or cease making price offers.

Consequently, this has limited most rice trade to small volumes and previously agreed-upon sales, according to the United Nations agency.

Notably, India accounts for more than 40% of all global rice shipments, making this export ban of paramount importance in the international rice market.

While this export restriction was anticipated to impact African nations, Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan, which were already grappling with high inflation, data analytics firm Gro Intelligence had previously issued a warning about its potential consequences.

The FAO’s projections indicate that world rice stocks are on track to reach a record high of 198.1 million tonnes, with India and China accounting for nearly three-quarters of this volume, consistent with previous seasons.

This stockpile represents approximately 38% of the expected rice consumption during the same period. However, the rest of the world is expected to see a second consecutive contraction in aggregate rice reserves by year-end.

Adding to the concerns, the El Nino weather phenomenon may negatively impact upcoming harvests, further affecting global rice production.

The turmoil in the rice market unfolds against the backdrop of a gradual decline in global food prices since reaching their peak last year following the conflict between major grain producers, Russia and Ukraine.

The FAO’s global food price index, which monitors monthly fluctuations in international prices of various food commodities, averaged 121.4 points in August, reflecting a 2.1% decline compared to July.

It’s important to note that this index was 24% lower than its peak in March 2022.

During August, prices for cereals, meat, dairy, and vegetable oils all experienced decreases.

However, sugar prices bucked the trend, rising by 1.3% due to heightened concerns regarding the impact of the El Nino phenomenon on sugarcane crops, coupled with below-average rains in August and persistent dry conditions in Thailand.

The FAO has also adjusted its forecast for world trade in cereals for 2023 and 2024, anticipating a 1.7% drop from the previous marketing season to 466 million tonnes.

This reduction is attributed to various factors, including diminished exports from Ukraine due to trade disruptions linked to the ongoing conflict.

Furthermore, the FAO has lowered its projection for world rice trade since July, considering the intensified export restrictions imposed by India.

Looking ahead, the FAO suggests that any recovery in the rice trade in 2024 is likely to be modest if India’s export restrictions persist and if the El Nino phenomenon continues to disrupt production in other Asian exporting nations.