Vietnamese rice exports have been increasing significantly in the first months of 2022, signalling a favourable year for the country’s produce.

Data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) showed that the country exported 974,556 tonnes of rice worth nearly $469.26 million in the first two months of the year, up 48.6 per cent and 30.6 per cent against the same period last year, respectively.

Vietnam’s largest rice export market during the period was the Philippines, with the exports to the country rising by 110 per cent in volume and 82 per cent in value. It was followed by China with 81,880 tonnes.

Among the exports, Loc Troi Agricultural Products JSC, a subsidiary of Loc Troi Group, recently completed its first delivery this year with more than 4,500 tonnes of rice worth more than $3 million to its long-term partners in Italy, France, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines and Kuwait.

In the early days of 2022, Trung An High-Tech Agriculture JSC also exported more than 11,000 tonnes of rice to South Korea.

Pham Thai Binh, director-general of the Trung An company, expected the rice export market in 2022 to be more favourable than in 2021 thanks to increasing demand following the recovery of the supply chains.

In addition, global uncertainties, including the recent armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, would also cause people in many countries to pay more attention to food reserves, Binh forecast.

Experts forecast both rice output and consumption in the global market would increase this year. They even said that in the next one or two weeks, rice export market will be busier. Besides, export prices are also expected to rise again when importers step up their purchases.

Specifically, according to the January 2022 report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released recently, global rice output in the 2021-2022 crop is forecast to hit 509.9 million tonnes, an increase of more than 2.6 million tonnes compared to the previous crop. Meanwhile, global rice consumption in the 2021-2022 period is projected at 510.3 million tonnes, up nearly 7.8 million tonnes compared to the previous year.

Instead of volume, Vietnamese rice exporters have been focusing more on quality to better access the European market to capitalise on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

According to the GDVC, though the country’s rice export volume to the EU last year inched up only 0.8 per cent against the previous year to 53,910 tonnes, the crop’s export value surged 21.6 per cent to $38.07 million.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import-Export Department attributed the high value to the success of Vietnamese rice exporters in taking advantage of the EVFTA.

The export price of Vietnamese rice gained the strongest increase of 20.3 per cent to $781 per tonne on average among the top 10 rice suppliers for the EU in the first nine months of 2021. The price hike was thanks to an increase in exports of Vietnamese high-quality and speciality rice varieties such as fragrant rice, ST24 and ST25.

Experts said Vietnam’s rice exports this year will continue to better exploit the advantages from the EVFTA to boost shipments to the European market. The EU currently accounts for only a small ratio of the country’s total rice exports with one per cent in volume and 1.3 per cent in turnover.

According to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), Vietnam’s rice exports in 2022 to the EU market will be more than 60,000 tonnes because the bloc’s rice importers have had a better assessment about the quality of Vietnamese rice. Besides, Vietnamese rice has already gained a number of traditional customers in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland.

Vietnam expects to export an estimated 100,000 tonnes of broken rice to the EU each year when the bloc fully liberalises broken rice imports.

According to experts, under the EVFTA, enterprises with large and high standard cultivation areas such as Loc Troi, Tan Long and Trung An will be the largest beneficiaries.

The VFA said the country this year will further focus on improving rice quality while keeping the crop’s volume unchanged against last year at six-to-6.3 million tonnes.