The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has lowered its rice export target for 2013 to between 7 - 7.2 million tonnes from 7.5 million with a turnover of 3 billion USD due to low export volume and falling prices.

For this month alone, the association estimated exports would be 650,000 tonnes, 100,000 tonnes below the set target. It forecast that the exports would stand at 1.8 million tonnes by the end of the third quarter, 230,000 tonnes lower than previously planned.

The association's chairman, Truong Thanh Phong, said the export market had faced difficulties as supply outstripped demand, while rivals from Thailand implemented generous price subsidies for farmers and India's export volume rallied.

Phong said the market had seen fierce competition as rice prices in Thailand, India and Pakistan had fallen, bringing them closer to those of Vietnam, making it hard for the country to export to these markets due to transport costs.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said countries such as Thailand, India and China used a large amount of their State budgets to purchase rice at high prices, while others took advantage of natural conditions, land and climate to produce high quality rice to improve competitiveness.

For example, India, the world's second largest rice producer, strongly supported its market while Myanmar, Cambodia and Pakistan had also made efforts to raise export volumes. Importers had adjusted policies by increasing the food supply themselves, reducing inventories and carefully considering exporters.

Pham Van Bay, VFA's vice chairman, said Vietnam's rice exports had seen shortcomings as its quality was not highly valued in the world market and the country lacked a well-known rice brand. He also said exporters lacked clear, long-term strategies for their exports as well as market expansion.

Under the ministry's plan, Vietnam would have just 150 rice exporters by 2015 to establish large production zones for in-depth business strategies.-VNA