MANILA - Six international suppliers are likely to bid for state contracts to ship up to 500,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines in a tender later this month, the country's grains procurement agency said on Monday.
Prospective participants in the Aug. 27 tender are Vietnam's state-owned exporters Vinafood 1 and Vinafood 2, South Korea's LG International, and global commodities traders Olam International Ltd, Louis Dreyfus and Archer Daniels Midland Co, according to a list of groups which bought bidding documents that was released by the Philippines' National Food Authority (NFA).
The NFA has been flooding local markets with its rice stocks following recent typhoons and spikes in retail prices for the grain that pushed food inflation in the country to the highest in more than five years.
The agency has allotted a budget of 10.3 billion pesos ($235 million) to import 25-percent broken, long grain, well-milled white rice for delivery in three batches between September and November.
Based on the approved budget, the NFA is authorized to spend up to P20,600 ($469 dollar) per tonne, including delivery and insurance costs.
Vietnam's 25-percent broken rice variety last week rose to $440 a tonne, free-on-board at Saigon Port, from $415-$420 the week before. The same variety from Thailand was quoted at $400 per tonne, FOB Bangkok.
Tight supplies after strong first-half export volumes have held Vietnamese rice prices at their highest since early 2012, providing a chance for Thailand to sell more of the grain at a time when demand is strong.
Seeking to boost thin stockpiles currently estimated to be five days less than the minimum 30-day buffer required from the July to September lean months, the Philippines has authorized the NFA to buy an extra 1 million tonnes of rice in the second half of the year.
Total rice purchases this year by the Philippines could exceed 2 million tonnes, the biggest in four years, with two big deals totalling 1.3 million tonnes already won by Vietnam.
The buying spree puts the Southeast Asian country on track to become the world's third biggest buyer of the grain this year, based on estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up from the No. 8 spot it held last year.