Thai rice exports for 2020 may face the same negative conditions that continue to plague all aspects of trade from the previous year, whether it is a highly competitive global market, world economic problems, depreciation of the Baht, drought, the change in China's role from importer to exporter, or the COVID-19 pandemic – all of which have led to a fall in Thai rice exports in 2020 to a range of 6.2 to 6.6 million tons or 12.9 to 18.1 percent YoY, the lowest figure in 7 years. The Thai white rice market (hard rice) represents the most problematic market amid a myriad of changing markets. With the decline in market share, Thailand's continued emphasis on hard white rice production could potentially harm the future of Thai rice exports. Therefore, Thailand must seek a solution through raising the status of soft white rice to that of a 'Fighting Product', to break into the middle market level where consumers generally possess purchasing power. This solution reflects changing consumer behavior with its newfound emphasis on higher quality rice over hard white rice. It also serves to elevate Thai rice to the premium rice market, which is expected to have long-lasting benefits for both farmers and exporters alike.
In fact, if Thailand could encourage farmers to grow soft white rice amounting to approximately 0.8 million rai (1,280 million square meters) aided by earnest and continuous state policies for Thai farmers, the country could then expect to see growth in both agricultural area and production volume. Thailand is expected to produce up to around 7 million tons of soft white rice for export by 2027, or 7 years from now. By attaining that level of productivity, Thailand would be able to restore 5.2 percent of its market shares in hard white rice and jasmine rice, and command more than 24.5 percent of total market share in the global rice market, as growth in exports of soft white rice would compensate for the decline in exports of hard white rice and jasmine rice.