Two state-owned Vietnamese companies looked set to win deals to supply a total of 800,000 tons of rice to the Philippines, the Southeast Asian nation's biggest purchase of the grain in three years as it looks to bolster dwindling stocks.
Vinafood 2 submitted offers ranging from $436.50 to $441.25 per ton to deliver a total of 700,000 tons of rice, the Philippines' National Food Authority (NFA) said.
While Vinafood 1 offered a selling price of $436 per ton to ship a total of 100,000 tons of the staple grain.
The NFA is looking for up to 800,000 tons of 15-percent broken, long grain well-milled rice to fill stockpiles for the second half of the year when little rice is harvested domestically.
The NFA could confirm the winning bidders as soon as next week after reviewing the bids, spokesman Rex Estoperez told Reuters. Shipments are due to arrive between May and August.
The Vietnam offers beat those from other rice traders and exporters such as Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Pte, Thai Hua Co Ltd of Thailand and Singsong (HK) Ltd.
Olam International Ltd was disqualified from the tender for not meeting bidding requirements, the NFA said.
Purchases by the Philippines, once the world's biggest rice buyer, could support falling prices of the grain in exporting Asian countries with bulging stockpiles such as Vietnam and Thailand.
The NFA is not ruling out buying more rice after the 800,000-ton purchase, mindful of the potential impact on domestic grain output of typhoons that usually hit rice-growing provinces in the second half of the year.
Philippine rice imports this year could reach 1.4 million tons, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has said, or even higher according to some traders, after several natural calamities including two strong typhoons last year hurt local crops and depleted stockpiles.
That would be the country's biggest purchase since 2010 when it bought a record 2.45 million tons.
Philippine rice output could grow 4 percent annually over the next three years, a senior farm official said in December, falling short of the 6 percent rate needed to hit 100 percent self-sufficiency in the grain due to a "new normal" of stronger typhoons.
The Philippines is hit by an average of about 20 typhoons each year, mostly during the latter part of the year.