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4 May 2007


Thai Parboiled Rice: Exports Worth Nearly THB20 Billion (Business Brief 1986)


Parboiled rice is an interesting rice product with vast potential in both markets at home and abroad. Presently, parboiled rice production in Thailand is wholly earmarked for export, but this tends to be volatile in the midst of tough competition. Rivalry comes from both Thailand's existing archrivals, i.e., India and Pakistan, as well as new competitors including the US and European Union. To retain our status, the quality of Thai parboiled rice should be upgraded, which would also help expand markets that have exhibited a steady growth thanks to rising demand for parboiled rice amid the prevailing health-conscious consumption trend. Many studies have found that parboiled rice is more nutritious than white rice; it contains lower vitamin B and E than parboiled rice of the same variety. Marketing promotions at home should also be expeditiously launched to expand the domestic market for parboiled rice as a way to reduce a heavy dependence on exports.

KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) holds the view that the changing consumer behavior in other countries would be a boon to parboiled rice sales in the global market. The current consumption trend sees that more and more consumers turning to parboiled rice thanks to the fact that many studies have established that parboiled rice has higher nutritional value than white rice as it undergoes less polishing than normal white rice. Against this backdrop, a bright future seems to lie ahead for Thai parboiled rice exports.

The Thai authorities have not compiled figures on the number of mills producing parboiled rice, so there are no reports on the volume of parboiled production annually. On parboiled rice exports, grain quality should be graded under the same standard used for export as white and jasmine rice. The authorities have actually standardized the quality of parboiled rice, so the tariff classification on exports of parboiled rice would seem easier. The benefit of parboiled rice grading is that it will allow producers to analyze the demand in each market as well as changes in the consumption behavior in each market; such information would benefit promotions and market penetration in the future. A recent study on the parboiled rice market in the USA and European Union have thoroughly categorized parboiled rice which clearly showed the level of competition and demand of each country where they import rice from the USA and EU. Moreover, the USA has acquired information for penetration into new markets for parboiled rice, especially the markets in Africa and the Middle East. On the other hand, both the US and EU countries are focusing on the Russian market and countries of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. These are also target markets for Thailand. As a result, Thai parboiled rice exports are facing tough competition. Thus, promoting production to respond to market demand and consumption behavior toward parboiled rice would be advantageous to Thai market expansion.

Moreover, domestic promotion of parboiled rice could play a role in supporting parboiled rice business considerably because it is the way to reduce the dependency on export. The problem in promoting parboiled rice consumption domestic is that the aroma and taste are unfamiliar to Thais. Nonetheless, this problem could be solved by promoting the consumption of high-quality parboiled rice because the scent of it is less obtrusive than parboiled rice produced using old production technology. In addition, the government should persuade consumers by appealing to their sense of healthy wholesomeness. Nutritionally, the amount of vitamin B and E in parboiled rice is higher than in ordinary rice (of the same breed) and it can be easily digested because parboiled rice will have been precooked to some extent during the production process. Those who like tender rice would thus prefer parboiled rice.


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