Larger 2011 rice harvest slashes imports by half

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MALUNGGAY PASTEL
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Global rice production in 2010/11 is forecast at a record 450.7 million tons (milled basis), according to the latest Rice Outlook report.

The forecast is down 0.8 million tons from last month’s forecast, but still more than 2 percent larger than a year earlier, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service report issued last Monday.

On the import side, 2011 projections were lowered for the Philippines, Madagascar, and Thailand.

Increased ending stocks forecasts for Brazil and Sri Lanka were more than offset by reductions for Indonesia, Peru, Thailand and the Philippines.

The largest of these reductions was for the Philippines, whose import estimate was reduced 500,000 tons to 1 million tons based on a lackluster pace of imports to date and expectations of a larger harvest this year as compared to 2009/10.

Production forecasts were lowered for Indonesia, Iran, North Korea, Laos and Sri Lanka, but raised for Madagascar, Brazil and Colombia.

The global ending stocks forecast for 2010/11 was reduced by 1.7 million tons to 97.1 million tons, but still up more than 3 percent from 2009/10.

The global stocks-to-use ratio declined to 21.7 percent – the highest ending stocks and the highest global stocks-to-use ratio since 2002/03.

The global trade forecast for 2011 was reduced by less than 1 percent to 30.1 million tons, more than a million tons less than last year and 5 percent lower than the 2007 record.

Trading prices for Thailand’s high- and medium-quality grades of non-specialty rice declined 3 to 4 percent from the first week of March, largely due to a lack of new large sales and expectations of large global supplies this spring.

In Vietnam, price quotes have nearly stabilized over the past month, due mostly to a steady sales volume.

U.S. long-grain milled rice prices continue to decline, primarily a result of large domestic supplies and weaker Thai prices. Prices for California’s medium-grain milled rice have remained strong over the past month and have been steady since late November of 2010.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has debunked a report of an impending rice shortage, calling it alarmist and baseless.

“Our harvests are good,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. “This looks like one of the highest on record.”

The first semester harvest could hit 7.6 million metric tons, a 15-percent increase in unhusked rice (palay) production over the same period last year. Total palay output for 2011 at 17.4 million metric tons.

Because of the better-than-expected cropping in the first half of 2011, rice imports are expected to boost the 860,000 metric tons buffer stock. Already, 200,000 metric tons were bought from Vietnam at over P4 billion.

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