Commerce Ministry denies news of domestic rice price hike amid falling export prices

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The Ministry of Commerce said on Friday rice sellers had no plan to raise packaged rice prices, as reported in the media this week, although certain discounts will be revoked to withstand growing shipment costs.

“The extra costs are due to higher shipment expenses, not raw material,” said Wattanasak Sueaiam, director-general of the Department of Internal Trade. “We have urged operators to set price caps, and some may change their sales campaigns.”

Thai netizens were not pleased when they first saw the news of the rice price hike, which appeared to be 30 baht for a five-kilogramme package. They said the current situation is dire as a result of the living cost crisis induced by inflation.

“Everything is more expensive, except minimum wages,” said a comment on Facebook. Some noticed that the prices of rice have been on the rise in the past months prior to the news.

The netizens also pointed out that rice farmers are facing a decline in export rates, which is not corresponding to the hike in retail rice prices.

According to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, the export rate for premium jasmine rice as of June 22 stood at US$905 per tonne, falling from US$992 in early June. The rice exporters said the supply of rice is climbing as more off-season rice crops flood the market.

“Please raise the rice paddy prices for farmers first,” said another comment. “I’m afraid that those ‘professional’ merchants would benefit from this.”

Somkiat Makcayathorn, the honorary president of Thai Rice Packers Association, said the retail prices should not increase to 30 baht per package. But some vendors might cut their discounts, resulting in higher prices. 

However, according to the commerce ministry, people who experience unfair pricing can report it to officials via the Department of Internal Trade’s hotline 1569. 

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