Rice Update: Lack of Demand Makes Market Slow as Christmas

Young rice crop. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

It has been yet another quiet week in the rice industry as the market continues to move along at around the same levels as the previous several weeks in most areas with only minor fluctuations in pricing. The export sales report was very disappointing for the week at a reported total of only 2,200 MT in sales volume. This is a significant departure from the levels seen in previous weeks and brings the 4 week average down to around 45,000 MT.

Continued tonnage at these levels will not go very far in moving the existing crop. Given the recent sales trends, some larger tonnage should be in the offing over the next week or two. Hopefully there are no lower values to be seen for some time.

Vessel loadings were also decreased from last week’s levels but are still respectable as compared to the sales number. There is still a notable amount of sales yet to be shipped so hopefully this number will not see any major drops in the near future.

Asian pricing has backed off marginally in the benchmark origins since the last report. Again, this change seems to be exchange rate driven due to both the magnitude of the changes (very minimal) and the general lack of major fundamentals in that region at this time.

Consistent with the market, USDA has held its world market price estimate unchanged for the third week in a row. It is unlikely that this projection will change in the next report due to the lack of volatility on the world stage, but it would seem that anything is possible nowadays.

Domestically, very little has changed in the cash market. Rice in first hands is minimal and those volumes will command higher prices in order to move. Until some noteworthy source of demand (either domestic or export) materializes, this price shift is unlikely to happen which leaves the market at an impasse.

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Plantings continue in fits and spurts across the South with the coastal regions virtually completed (and mostly emerged), while the upper delta is still struggling with the weather to keep the planters moving. The rice/soybean price differential has made some major changes over the past several weeks which may encourage a few more acres of rice to be planted further North, however the physical obstacles (namely weather) must still be overcome.

The futures market seems to have taken a break from its fall over the past weeks, with all of the open contracts on the board closing in positive territory. Gains of 2.4% to 3.3% were noted on lower average daily volume and open interest. It will be interesting to see if a reversal is in the works or if the market is simply taking a break before breaking to the downside again.

With the advent of May, the next WASDE installment is on the horizon. It is unlikely to look decidedly different from the April edition, and as such the market may already be trading it. Until a clearer picture of the new crop is available, it is safe to say that the bearish trend will persist for the next few weeks.

Full report.

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