March 30, 2004



Thai Corn Demand Rising With Drought And End Of Bird Flu


Demand for corn in Thailand rose with prices likely to remain firm in the coming weeks as corn supplies dwindle and demand from the poultry industry improves following the end of the bird flu epidemic.


Feed millers are also stocking up on corn as the recent drought in Thailand has delayed corn planting, traders said.


Domestic corn, a major ingredient in poultry feed, was at 6.16 baht/kg ($156/ton) on Tuesday, up from last week's 5.5 baht.


"There is a pick - up in domestic demand for corn. Local demand for chicken is rising, as more people are eating it," said one trader.


"Feedmills are also buying corn to keep in stock as they expect continued drought to hit the harvest of the new crop," he said, referring to the 2004/05 (July/June) crop.


Drought in most corn growing areas has prevented farmers from planting the new crop for a month now, traders said.


It takes around 120 days for corn to be harvested after planting.


The price of live chicken in Bangkok was at 38 baht/kg ($960/tonne) on Tuesday, up from 26 baht/kg a month ago.


Chicken raisers have started restocking in areas not hit by the bird flu outbreak identified in January, traders said.


"However, the supply of live chicken is still tight. The price is expected to rise further," said one.


The outbreak has hit chicken exports as poultry exporters stopped raising new chickens after the epidemic was confirmed on January 23, traders said.


"The Thai poultry sector will return to normal and overseas buyers will resume imports only when it is declared that Thailand is free of bird flu," traders said.