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Rice Prices Stay Relatively Low

SINGAPORE/REUTERS

Ample rice supplies from top exporters Thailand and Vietnam should keep prices in check through the first quarter, sparing Asia’s staple food from the rally in other commodity prices.

Benchmark Thai rice dropped 13 per cent in 2010, while U.S. wheat futures climbed around 50 per cent as adverse weather hit key producing regions.

The world’s second-largest exporter Vietnam was forecast to enjoy a bumper next crop, while top buyer the Philippines has said it would halve imports in 2011. These two factors alone should ensure a comfortable supply-demand balance for some time, analysts said.

The benchmark 100 per cent B grade Thai white rice slipped $5 to trade at $535 per tonne last week, the lowest since November.

That compares to a peak of over $1,000 a tonne in 2008, which prompted several governments at the time to impose export curbs to protect their domestic markets.

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