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Vietnam has overtaken Thailand as the world's highest-priced rice export market in what is possibly just the second most important "rice war." First-quarter prices were up 19 per cent year over year in the first quarter, reaching $547 a tonne, with prices in March half a per cent higher than February's rate. This run-on pricing pushes Vietnamese rice past both Thailand and India, their main competition. Thailand can take some consolations though, as Thai Jasmine rice was recently named the most delicious rice in the world.
However, the Department of Agricultural Processing and Market Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) reported that Vietnam's exports fell 30% in volume between January and March 2021, to 1.1 million tonnes. With the increased price though, the export earned US $606 million, a drop of only 17% in value over comparable 2020 figures.
Last year, Vietnamese rice pushed past Thailand as the world's second-largest rice exporter, moving less rice than only India, the top exporter. Vietnam exported 6.15 million tonnes of rice valued at $3.07 billion in 2020. Since businesses have finished preparing rice for export and have an abundant supply, the Vietnam Food Association expects an increase in 2021. Strong demand from foreign buyers for the new winter-spring rice contributed to the increase in price, according to the Department of Agricultural Processing and Market Growth.
Although India remains the top exporter, its prices are significantly lower, with India's 5% broken rice to see a significant price increase last month but still peaking at only US $401 per tonne. Thailand, on the other hand, had clung to Vietnam's numbers like white on rice earlier on in the year. Thai rice hit a peak of $538 per tonne in early March, just $9 short of the top spot. However, by the end of the month, prices had dropped to $509.