Rice Market Update: Export Demand Surges as Harvest Replenishes Supplies

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Rice harvest throughout the USA marches on with Louisiana and Texas leading the charge at 94% and 99% complete. Growers in these two states are now largely monitoring their second crops and looking for marketing opportunities following the dramatic weather events in the region.

Meanwhile, further north, harvest conditions have finally improved allowing Arkansas’ harvest to advance to 57% complete, still significantly behind the historical norm for this time of year. The story is similar in both Mississippi and Missouri where harvest progress is also behind schedule.

Field yields continue to generate optimism among growers, however, there have been a few reports of lower milling yields in some areas which has led to a pause among millers.

Overall, with Arkansas just over the halfway point in harvest, milling activity slower to ramp up on diminished demand, and weather induced logistical problems, it’s still a little too early to gauge the outcome of this year’s crop. The industry will have a much stronger grasp on quality and yields in the next couple of weeks.

While few cash sales were reported this week, there does appear to be signs that the spot market is coming back to life. Paddy sales in Texas and Louisiana point towards a sideways to slightly softening market while Mississippi is holding steady. Bids remain scarce at best in Arkansas which is expected to change in the immediate future as growers expedite their harvests.

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In Asia, export prices continued to slide as Thai 100% B fell by another $3 per ton. Although the prices offered by the major Asian exporters were only slightly down this week, the larger trend of greater interest is that Asian origins have shed 4-6% of their value from just one month ago.

After a relatively slow week last week, export sales shot up to 127,000 MT, a marketing year high. For perspective, there were only 3 weeks last year where weekly export sales reached 6-digits. At only 10,700 MT, shipments were down sharply against last week, which is in part being attributed to the later harvest as well as port delays in the Southern states.

Similar to the cash market, the futures market traded sideways to slightly down from last week. Average trading volume bumped 11% against last week but open interest was relatively flat.

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