Rice Market: Stronger Export Activity Needed, Harvest Nears Completion

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

The rice market has continued to ease forward with only minor fluctuations in the underlying benchmarks since the previous report. The export sales report for the week showed very modest increases in export sales but the net total of 41,600 MT was on the low side of positive for the market.

Consistent sales in excess of 65,000 MT per week help to keep the trade moving and the year end carryout stocks under control. Weeks on the low side need to be made up for on later trades to maintain the balance. Hopefully this number will be higher in the weeks to come, especially as buyers become more aware of the cash market prices after the new crop harvest is complete.

The export tonnage for the week set a marketing year low with less than 10,000 MT being shipped out. Recognizing that there are still some large outstanding sales still on the books, this low number will probably be a fluke however stronger activity will be welcomed when it materializes.

In the Asian markets, benchmark pricing slipped slightly downward over the past week. Much of these price fluctuations have to do with the turmoil in international markets and politics, although some local supply and demand factors are playing into the Asian pricing as well. USDA held its world market price estimate for the week unchanged.

This marks the sixth week in a row that the projection has remained flat. Given the state of the market, new revisions may be well into the future. In the domestic market, new crop harvest is getting closer to completion and should probably be wrapped up within the next 10 days weather permitting. Field yield estimates from the Upper Delta have held up with grower expectations to this point.

Milling outturns and quality have been surprisingly better than was anticipated previously in the growing season. Reports of 55-60 pound head rice are rather common with total outturns hovering around 70 pounds. Overall quality also seems to be good with minimal reports of damage at this time.

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In the futures market, the open contracts on the board had a rough week with all of the open contracts on the board shedding several percentage points of value over last week’s price. Losses ranged from 2.1%-3.1% on stronger average daily volume but lower open interest as compared to last week’s trading.

The next report should see some market activity to report with the October WASDE results. This report will set the stage for the fall trading cycle and will give some much needed additional underlying data to the marketplace.

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