India basmati exports to fall as Pakistan offers competitive prices

Pakistan and India are the leading exporters of the premium long-grain variety of rice, famous for its aroma, to countries such as Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US

Basmati rice exports
from Pakistan could jump 60 per cent
this year to 950,000 tonnes

By:
Eastern Eye

INDIA’S basmati rice exports are likely to drop in 2024 after nearing a record high last year, as Pakistan is offering the grain at competitive prices amid a rebound in production, industry officials said.

Pakistan and India are the leading exporters of the premium long-grain variety of rice, famous for its aroma, to countries such as Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

India’s exports of basmati rice rose 11.5 per cent from a year earlier to 4.9 million metric tons in 2023, just shy of the record high of five million tons in 2020.

It came after lower supplies from Pakistan and stocking efforts by importing countries, industry experts said.

Basmati shipments helped the world’s biggest rice exporter to garner a record $5.4 billion (£4.2bn) in 2023, up nearly 21 per cent from the previous year, because of higher prices, government data showed.

“Last year, buyers were hustling to stock up when Pakistan was facing production issues. This year, however, Pakistan offered lower prices than India due to increased production,” Vijay Setia, a leading exporter based in the north Indian state of Haryana, said.

Islamabad’s total rice exports could jump to five million tons in the 2023-24 financial year, up from last year’s 3.7 million tons, Chela Ram Kewlani, chairman of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said in January.

The depreciation of the Pakistani rupee has made that country’s exports more competitive, according to Akshay Gupta, head of bulk exports at KRBL Ltd.

Meanwhile, lower export demand amid an estimated 10 per cent rise in India’s basmati rice production has started pulling down basmati prices in that country, Gupta added.

Iran, the biggest buyer of Indian basmati rice, slashed purchases by 36 per cent in 2023, but higher shipments to Iraq, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia offset the shortfall, according to data by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.