Rice imports as of mid-March 886,963 MT

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
Rice imports as of mid-March 886,963 MT
A vendor arranges rice for sale at a market in Paco, Manila on March 13, 2024.
STAR / Ryan Baldemor

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s rice imports as of mid-March have surpassed the total volume recorded in the entire first quarter of last year by a double-digit rate, to over 880,000 metric tons, government data showed.

Latest Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data showed that rice imports from Jan. 1 to March 14 reached 886,963.112 metric tons, about 10.6 percent over the 801,732.019 MT recorded in the first three months of last year.

Of the total volume arrived, more than half or about 493,962.72 MT came from Vietnam, which has been the Philippines’ top supplier since the domestic rice trade regime was liberalized in 2019.

It was followed by Thailand at 230,559.43 MT and Pakistan at 109,803.5 MT, based on BPI data.

The BPI data also showed that the country also imported rice from the following countries: Myanmar (48,960 MT), Cambodia (1,620 MT), Japan (1,815.37 MT), India (235.5 MT) and Italy (6.6 MT).

BPI data indicated that 109 eligible entities imported the 886,963.112 MT recorded volume as of March 14.

The top rice importer during the reference period was Orison Free Enterprise Inc. at 103,408.35 MT, followed by BLY Agri Venture Trading at 55,419.99 MT, based on BPI data.

Meanwhile, the BPI issued 424 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) from March 1 to 13 with a corresponding total import volume of 358,188.5 MT.

The import clearances are required before any eligible entity can import rice. Under present rules and regulations, the approved rice import must enter the country within 30 days after the SPSIC was issued.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hiked its rice import forecast for the Philippines this year to 4.1 million MT (from its estimate of 3.9 million MT in February), the most in the country’s history, to meet its growing demand for the staple as local production contracts due to El Niño.

The USDA hiked its import forecast for the Philippines due to foreseen “smaller crop” harvest.
Given the new rice import forecast, the Philippines is projected to remain the world’s largest importer of the grain for the second consecutive year.

If the import forecast materializes, it would be the first time that the country’s rice imports reach a 4-million MT mark.

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