Vietnam's rice exports rose 26 percent year-on-year in the first seven months as importers looked for new suppliers in anticipation that Thailand will raise its prices, industry insiders say.
According to the Vietnam Food Association, the country shipped 4.61 million tons of rice during the period, up 16.7 percent in terms of volume from a year ago. Export revenues reached US$2.18 billion, a 26 percent increase over the same period last year.
In July, local exporters continued to sign new contracts for a total volume of one million tons, which the association said is a new record.
Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter, is expected to offer higher prices to its farmers, prompting many buyers to scout for other supply sources.
The US has cut back on rice production by 30 percent this year while the demand for the grain in Asian markets like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines is still high, the Vietnam Food Association said.
The average price of Vietnamese rice was $473.3 per ton in the January-July period, up 8 percent from a year before.
Truong Thanh Phong, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association, said many local companies have stockpiled rice, putting a pressure on supply.
"We recommend that rice-growing provinces, if possible, start the winter-spring crop as soon as possible and consider expanding their rice areas," Phong said at a meeting Friday.
He also asked exporters not to be hasty in signing contracts because prices are expected to rise further through at least early next year.
The government has ordered the Vietnam Food Association to ensure that increased rice exports will not hurt the domestic market.
Phong said there are ample rice reserves in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces. Vietnam will have enough rice for local consumption, he said.