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Bad weather blamed as Vietnam misses target for rice exports

Saturday, 13/05/2017, 10:57 GMT+7

The volume of shipments sank to the lowest level since 2008 while rivals became more competitive.

Vietnam is estimated to export about 4.9 million tons of rice in 2016, down 25.8 percent from last year, according to the agriculture ministry.

The world’s third largest rice supplier failed to reach the annual target of 5.7 million tons. This is the first time in eight years rice shipments have dropped to under five million tons.

In terms of value, there was also a staggering 21.2 percent decline, to $2.2 billion.

The ministry said earlier this year prolonged drought and saltwater intrusion damaged crops in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's main rice basket. Heavy downpours and flooding in the central region throughout the year brought more farming woes.

Vietnam's total rice output shrank 3.3 percent to 43.6 million tons.

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Excessive supplies from major rivals like Thailand, Pakistan and India and smaller orders from key import markets such as China and the Philippines then made the situation tougher for Vietnamese exporters.

As of mid-November, Vietnam’s rice traders were still sitting on a stockpile of 1.2 million tons.

In 2017, global rice trade is forecast to hit 40.6 million tons, marginally increasing from 39.5 million tons this year, according to a report of the U.S. Department of Agriculture published this month.

After trending down, import demand of two major importers, China and the Philippines, is expected to rebound next year, so Vietnam is likely to push sales to up to 5.8 million tons.

The figure would be still below the record level of 7.7 million tons in 2012.

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