India's rice exports in 2022 jumped to a record high despite the government's curbs on overseas sale, as buyers continued to make purchases from the South Asian country because of competitive prices, according to government and industry officials.
The record exports allowed Asian and African countries to import the staple at a time when supplies of wheat and other grains were hit by drought and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
India, the world's biggest rice exporter, in September banned exports of broken rice and slapped a 20% export tax on some non-basmati varieties as erratic monsoon cut production.
India's rice exports in 2022 rose 3.5% from a year ago to 22.26 million tonnes, or more than the combined exports of the next four largest exporters Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and US, a top government official told Reuters.
He declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media.
"Exports fell after government imposed the export duty, but very soon exports revived. In December, India managed to export more than 2 million tonnes," the official said on Tuesday.
In 2022, non-basmati rice shipments stood at 17.86 million tonnes, while premium basmati rice exports were 4.4 million tonnes, the official added.
India exports non-basmati rice mainly to Africa and Asia, while basmati rice goes to the Middle East, the US and Britain.
An export duty on Indian non-basmati rice shipments spiked prices but buyers soon returned, as Thailand and Vietnam were offering rice at an even higher price, said Nitin Gupta, vice president of Olam India's rice business.
Indian rice is the cheapest and that's why exports would remain strong in 2023, he said.
India has been offering 25% broken white rice at around US$430 (about RM1,800) per tonne, while Vietnam was offering the same grade at around US$440 and Thailand at around US$500, a dealer said.
Despite higher exports, India has ample domestic stocks, said BV Krishna Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association of India.