Grain: World Markets and Trade
In 2017, rice trade is set to hit a new record, with only a slight decline forecast for next year. Import demand is primarily supported by expanding consumption in Africa and the Middle East with growing populations and changing diets. China remains the largest importer, primarily supplied by neighboring regions. Weather-induced production shortages in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka sparked sudden import demand this year, sending rice trade to a record. The top exporter is India, as it has been since 2012 after it removed its non-basmati export ban. Meanwhile, Thai exports are forecast to hit a record in 2017, spurred by sales from government-held stocks which have now been nearly depleted. Vietnam has seen an uptick in sales, not only to China, its largest buyer, but also to regional markets and Africa. These top three exporters account for nearly two-thirds of global exports, and together with the next largest exporters, Pakistan and the United States, account for nearly 80 percent of trade. But this year has seen the further rise of emerging and returning suppliers. Burma is set to ship volumes not witnessed since before WWII, as they fulfill demand in neighboring China, supply Europe under the Everything but Arms Agreement, and make inroads into African markets. Cambodia has steadily increased exports and recently secured a tender to Bangladesh, demonstrating its expanding reach. Meanwhile, China as the top importer is also interestingly becoming a sizable exporter, reaching primarily African markets this year with low-priced rice. China has not shipped this quantity to Africa since the early 2000s. An expansion of global rice trade has brought about more opportunities for the largest exporters, but the growth of these secondary players is changing the competitive landscape.