Robust demand from across Asia and Africa sent Indian rice export prices to a three-year peak this week, while Vietnamese exporters struggled to ship due to high freight prices fuelled by a container shortage.
Top exporter India's 5 percent broken parboiled variety were quoted at $402-$408 per tonne, its highest since May 2018.
"Along with traditional buyers, China and Vietnam are also buying from India. There's huge demand," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh will use a deepwater port to export rice for the first time in decades amid a global grain shortage, according to a government order seen by Reuters, which could raise shipments this year by a fifth.
Neighbouring Bangladesh, which has been grappling with limited supply, also bought more than 110,000 tonnes from India with more on its way, a senior Food Ministry official said.
Meanwhile, Vietnam's 5 percent broken rice prices rose to $510-$515 per tonne from $505-510 last week on thin supply.
"Trade is very slow as most of us are already off for the Lunar New Year holiday, and buyers have suspended signing new contracts waiting for the new harvest," a trader based in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said.
The harvest of the winter-spring crop, the largest of the year, will peak in late February or early March, traders said.
Shipments were also being hampered by high freight charges due to a container shortage.
"Shipments to regional ports have been facing delays, and we can't even book ships for European and African ports," a trader said.
Thailand's 5 percent broken rice prices jumped to their highest level since early April at $535-$564 per tonne, amid concerns over low supplies, while exporters eyed a tender from Iraq, traders said.
Iraq's trade ministry said it intended to procure rice from international suppliers this week.
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