Glutinous rice, an affordable main staple for people from all walks of life, has seen its prices rising to hit a decade high to almost Bt20,000 per ton in August compared to around Bt10,000 last year.

The price is driven by a supply shortage of glutinous paddy during the crop season 2018/2019 as farmers shifted to grow more Hom Mali fragrant rice. Moreover, the widespread drought resulted in lower production of off-season rice crop.  

Hence, the overall glutinous paddy output this year decreased to 6.45 million tons, the lowest in three years. Sellers raised up the prices, prompting the Commerce Ministry to issue measures to prevent hoarding and price gouging.

Beloved staple

Glutinous rice has long been one of the most popular stables in Thailand. The white grain, which becomes shiny and sticky when steamed, makes a perfect combination with other popular dishes such as grilled chicken and green papaya salad, not to mention the beloved sweet sticky rice with mango and coconut milk.

Sticky rice has in recent years been overshadowed by Hom Malirice which is more expensive, partly because a majority of sticky rice is meant for domestic households while a substantialamount of Hom Mali fragrant rice is for overseas markets.

Last year, a ton of Hom Mali fragrant rice was sold at around Bt14,000 per ton compared to around Bt10,000 per ton forglutinous rice. Therefore, some farmers shifted to grow Hom Mali rice during this year crop season, lowering yield of glutinous rice during the main crop season by 1.18 percent when compared to the same period last year. 

At present, the total area for glutinous rice plantation covers around 16 million rais compared to 18 million rais eight years ago. 

Drought

The massive drought exacerbated the shortage as it affected rice plantation in the upper northeastern and the northern regions. The total glutinous paddy output in the current crop yeardecreased to 6.45 million tons, which would generate around 3.5-3.7 million tons of milled rice.

Prices of glutinous rice rose sharply. For example, prices of premium–grade sticky rice increased from Bt11,000 per ton last year to Bt14,000 in February before hitting Bt16,000 last month.Some type of sticky rice was sold at the higher price of Bt20,000 per ton, depending on the demand and quality.

Some traders reportedly hoarded rice stock or jacked up the prices, affecting local consumers especially those who eat sticky rice routinely. Prices of some high-quality glutinous rice rose from Bt30 per kilograms last year to almost Bt50 per kilogram now.

The Commerce Ministry recently has issued measures to prevent hoarding and smuggling as some traders imported sticky rice from neighboring countries which is cheaper or sold at onlyaround Bt25 per kilogram.

Meanwhile, it is expected that sticky rice prices will continue to stay at high level until October when the fresh output of glutinous rice starts entering the market.

Source