Philippines rice stock falls below ideal level

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - From 3.21 million tonnes in May, the Philippines’ stock of milled rice dipped to 2.57 million tonnes, which is below the safe level of 2.88 million tonnes. 

The Philippines’ stock of milled rice shrank to 2.57 million tons as of June 1 as harvesting of the dry-season crop wrapped up, ushering the lean production months when the government needs to assure sufficient buffer stock.

This is below what is deemed “safe level” of 2.88 million tons, equivalent to 90 days’ consumption.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said in an update that the country’s stockpile went down from 3.21 million tons in the previous month.

According to the PSA, the national inventory—which shrank by 20 percent or 641,000 tons from the May level— was good for 76 days’ consumption or 19 days less than the previous month’s stock.

The National Food Authority’s (NFA) buffer was at 205,230 tons, although NFA officials said this had gone down further to about 150,000 tons as of last Thursday.

Stocks held in commercial warehouses fell by 11 percent or about 165,000 tons to 1.29 million tons, equivalent to 38 days of nationwide consumption.

Household stocks lost 28 percent or about 411,000 tons to settle at 1.08 million tons, which is equivalent to 32 days of demand.

On Friday, the NFA said 13 prospective bidders for the supply of 250,000 metric tons of milled rice signed up in a pre-bid conference held Thursday.

The total volume is divided into eight lots based on where the shipments will be delivered—eight designated NFA warehouses spread across the country.

The biggest lot of 100,000 tons is meant for Metro Manila, and the smallest lot of 10,000 tons is meant for delivery in General Santos City in southern Philippines.

A qualified bidder can offer up to 50,000 tons, to encourage the participation of as many suppliers as possible, NFA officials said.

The NFA clarified that the exercise was an open tender, which means that both private- and public-sector entities are allowed to take part.

Thus, Vietnam Northern Food Corp. (Vinafood 1) and Vietnam Southern Food Corp. (Vinafood 2) are among the potential bidders that secured bidding documents Friday.

Vinafood 1 and Vinafood 2, both state-owned, are two of the usual NFA suppliers during the previous years when the agency topped up its inventory through government-to-government importation.

All bids should be in by July 25, when the bidding committee would evaluate these to determine which ones would be recommended for a contract award.

Other prospective bidders Olam International Ltd. (based in Singapore), Louis Dreyfus Co. (The Netherlands), Gentraco Corp., Gia International Corp., Phan Min Investment Production Trading Services Co. Ltd., and Hiep Loi Food Jsc. (Vietnam), as well as Thai firms Ponglarp Co. Ltd., Thai Hua Co. Ltd., Capital Cereals Co. Ltd., Asia Golden Rice Co. Ltd., and Thai Ganlux International Inc.

The NFA has earmarked a budget of about P5.6 billion (US$111 million) for the entire volume, which should have arrived by the end of September.

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