The Commerce Ministry has joined forces with Thai rice exporters and 40 Hong Kong importers to regain market share for Thai Hom Mali rice (jasmine rice) in Hong Kong, a major market.
After a meeting involving ministry officials, Thai rice traders, and 40 Hong Kong importers in Bangkok, Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said Thailand and Hong Kong had agreed to continue their trade and increase orders for Hom Mali rice. They said the price of Thai jasmine rice had become more competitive.
"The traders agreed that Thailand still has a chance to regain market share for Hom Mali rice as the price is now more competitive and Hong Kong buyers have high faith in the quality of Thai rice," Apiradi said.
To regain market share for Thai rice, Hong Kong importers have suggested that the Thai government boost confidence in Hom Mali rice by having the certification logo in the Chinese language as well. Currently, the logo is only in English.
Hong Kong rice traders have also encouraged Thai rice traders to join an international food exhibition in that city next year.
Apiradi said the government would continue to boost consumption of Thai rice by reaching out to end consumers, and would try to support hotels and restaurants that have a huge stock of Thai rice to serve their diners.
Since 2008, when Thailand monopolised 91 per cent of the Hong Kong market for imported fragrant rice, its share has plummeted to about 40 per cent because of high prices.
"Thai Hom Mali rice should regain its piece of the pie soon, thanks to close cooperation among the Thai government, Thai exporters and Hong Kong rice traders," she said.
According to the Customs Department, shipment of Thai Hom Mali rice to Hong Kong dropped 4.56 per cent during the first nine months of the year to 101,777 tonnes, from 106,642 tonnes last year.
Apiradi said Thailand should be able to ship the fourth lot of rice under its 1-million-tonne contract with mainland China next month. This shipment will include some Hom Mali rice from the 2014-15 main crop.
Witt Maneenetr, the trade attache at the Thai Trade Office in Hong Kong, said Thailand's share of the jasmine-rice market in that city was expected to increase by 2 per cent next year.
Hong Kong traders visited Thai rice fields for the first time in a decade so that they could have more confidence in Thai rice farming and production.
A source from the Thai Rice Exporters Association said it planned to encourage Hong Kong traders to deal with more Thai rice by setting up a fund and providing a premium fee to traders with the highest volume.
The idea will be discussed again before deciding whether to implement it.
Source: The Nation