Surging basmati rice exports reach near-record levels amid high prices

16 March 20242 min reading

According to the US Department of Agriculture, global basmati rice exports set a record in 2023, exceeding 5.5 million tons. Basmati exports, mainly sourced from India and Pakistan, accounted for 10 percent of global rice trade. 

India, the world’s largest rice exporter, had the largest share in 2023 with 4.9 million tons of basmati exports, while Pakistan’s exports declined. The majority of basmati rice traded is destined for the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Despite basmati prices being more than double regular long grain prices, consumers in these markets continue to buy basmati based on preferences for this unique rice. Saudi Arabia is the largest market for basmati rice; imports rose by 100,000 tons in 2023, in part due to rising tourism. Additionally, basmati imports in Iraq more than doubled, as India basmati comprised a larger share of total rice imports.

Source: Trade Data Monitor, LLC & Pakistan Bureau Statistics

Basmati rice has not faced trade restrictive measure due to its high-value to Indian agricultural exports. In 2023, despite only accounting for 28 percent of India rice exports by quantity, basmati rice accounted for more than half the total value of Indian rice exports. Since September 2022, the Government of India has banned and placed restrictions on multiple types of rice exports following concerns of domestic availability. The government placed minimum export prices for basmati rice partly to prevent exporters from mislabeling regular white rice as basmatirice to avoid the white rice export ban. While uncertainty remains over when India will lift its export bans on regular white rice, given basmati rice’s significant price premium and traditional use in exports, trade is expected to continue. 

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