Rice prices are on the verge of hitting new 15-year highs as the damage effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon across Asia have damaged farmlands, leading to dwindling supplies.
Thai white rice 5% broken hit $640 per ton this week. These prices are back to levels not seen since October 2008. Prices are up over 50% since the start of 2022.
Bloomberg spoke with Chookiat Ophaswongse, an honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, who provided new details about the deteriorating conditions for global rice markets.
Ophaswongse said the demand for Thai rice from Brazil and the Philippines continues to rise. He said prices are being pushed up as top producer countries run low on supplies and demand increases elsewhere.
"We're selling well now because Vietnam is low on stocks," said Chookiat, whose group sets the weekly price for 5% broken.
We provided readers with enough understanding that rice, which is critical to the diets of billions of people worldwide, was headed for a shortage:
- Sept. 2022: The Stage Is Being Set For A Massive Global Rice Shortage
- May 2023: Global Rice Shortage Looms, Set To Be The Biggest In Decades
- May 2023: Thai Rice Crop In Crosshairs Of El Nino As Farmers Are Warned About Water Shortages
And the panic started earlier this year:
In mid-September, Frederic Neumann, Chief Asia Economist at HSBC Global Research, told clients that soaring rice prices are "a memory of the 2008 Asian food price scare."
And just weeks ago, Sara Menker, founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, told Bloomberg in an interview that the current food crisis surpassed the one in 2007-08, which ultimately sparked Arab Spring across the Middle East a few years later.