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Sunday October 13, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday October 13, 2013 MYT 7:19:51 AM
INDIA has overtaken Thailand as the biggest rice supplier to Singapore – the first time this is believed to have happened.
Thailand has been the top source of the staple here since at least 1998, accounting for over half of overall supply between 1998 and 2011. Last year, this fell to 35.3%.
New figures from the Government’s trade promotion arm, International Enterprise Singapore, show that India was the top rice supplier from January to August this year at 92,865 tonnes, or 32.9% of the total.
Thailand was second at 85,816 tonnes over the same period, or 30.4% of the total.
The country is famous for its premium grade of Hom Mali rice, with its premium rice brands, such as Royal Umbrella and SongHe, the long-time favourites of diners here.
But there are several factors driving the shift in supply patterns among major rice suppliers.
“Importers (are) taking advantage of the lower prices of Indian rice compared to Thai rice,” said a spokesman for the Trade and Industry Ministry.
Since 2011, the Thai government has been buying rice from farmers at above-market rates, building a stockpile at home.
This has reduced the amount of Thai rice available for export and resulted in higher prices of the staple, she said.
Supplies from India, as well as other countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar, have grown as much as ninefold since 2004.
According to the Singapore General Rice Importers Association, the shift began when global rice prices began surging in 2008.
Back then, massive floods in Thailand led to a supply shortage. Other rice-producing nations also curbed exports to ensure adequate domestic supply and importers here hastened to look for alternative sources.
Importers said the changing palates of Singaporeans are also a factor. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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