By Nakul Iyer
BENGALURU - Indian rice export rice prices retreated this week from a more than one-year peak that slowed demand, while Vietnamese rates held near a two-year high as countries battling the coronavirus pandemic sought to bolster stocks.
Top exporter India saw rates for its 5 percent broken parboiled variety fall to $370-$375 per tonne from last week's $385-$389, which was the highest since April, 2019.
"Demand has been moderating in the last few days due to higher prices. Buyers are taking a pause after healthy purchases earlier this month," a Mumbai-based exporter with a global trading firm said on condition of anonymity.
A weaker rupee and more competitive pricing boosted demand for the Indian variety over recent weeks.
In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice were unchanged at $450-$460 a tonne, with prices likely to edge up in the coming weeks, traders said.
"Demand is rising faster than supplies from the summer-autumn harvest that has just begun," a trader based in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said.
"We're seeing higher demand from Cuba, Malaysia and the Philippines, who are building up stockpiles in anticipation of a long stay of the coronavirus pandemic."
Thailand's benchmark 5-percent broken rice edged lower to $489-$490, from $480-$505 previously, with buyers choosing cheaper offers from India and Vietnam, traders said.
"Sales have been taking place but there have been no major deals as prices are still quite high," a Bangkok-based trader said.
Supply concerns following one of the worst droughts in decades have also eased after rain in rice-growing areas this month.
Supply of Bangladesh's dominant 'Boro' summer rice variety could miss its target of 20.04 million tonnes this season, as acreage fell to a three-year low.
The Boro cultivation area has dropped to 4.75 million hectares from 4.9 million hectares last year, data from the Department of Agriculture Extension showed.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; editing by Arpan Varghese and Barbara Lewis)