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Thailand to promote new and cheaper rice strain
Bangkok Post, August 6, 2004
Thailand plans to promote fragrant rice strain Pathum Thani 1 as a cheaper alternative for importers in order to compete with China and Vietnam in the lower-priced fragrant rice market.

While it lacks premium Hom Mali's distinctive jasmine aroma, the lower-cost yet still high-quality fragrant rice is expected to enjoy a competitive edge if priced at around US$ 250-300 a tonne, significantly less than the Hom Mali 105 strain, which sells for about $ 500 per tonne.

Commerce Minister Watana Muangsook said Pathum Thani 1 fragrant rice would be promoted in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, low-end markets traditionally dominated by rice exporters from China and Vietnam.

Given the trend toward price-war marketing tactics among exporters, Thailand has begun seeing signs of buyer resistance for its premium grade Hom Mali, which is priced out of range for some markets, he said.

Two strains of Thai fragrant rice, Hom Mali 105 and Kor Khor 15, widely recognised as premium grades, have their strongest markets in Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Europe.

Mr Watana said he wanted to clearly differentiate the market position of both fragrant rice strains in order to preserve the standards and prestige of Hom Mali and help increase awareness among foreign consumers. Such tactics could prevent sellers from bagging the two strains together and then calling the mixture Hom Mali, which would be detrimental to the premium grade's image in the long run.

To achieve the plan, state agencies and the private sector are to work out new standards criteria for Pathum Thani 1 rice.

Sumeth Laomoraporn, the president of C.P. Intertrade Co, suggested that the government educate local consumers on the difference between a normal fragrant rice such as Pathum Thani 1, and Hom Mali, the country's flagship premium jasmine rice.

Local consumers still do not accept Pathum Thani 1 as a fragrant rice, due to its more subtle aroma, he added.

Exports of Hom Mali rice last year accounted for 2.2 million tonnes of the country's 7.5-million-tonne total and about one-fourth of total shipments for the year to date, or 4.6 million tonnes. Of the total sold, about 400,000 tonnes were of the Pathum Thani 1 strain, but were listed by exporters as normal white rice.
MGR Archive 7.8.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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EU Prices Baldo €660
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