MANILA, July 13 (Reuters) - The Philippines' state grains agency said on Thursday it set a price ceiling of $451.08 a tonne for the 250,000 tonnes of rice it was seeking from international suppliers, and identified 11 prospective bidders from Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.
The Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice importers, usually buys from major sellers Vietnam and Thailand, where export prices have fallen amid weak demand.
The National Food Authority (NFA) is seeking supply of 25 percent broken long grain white rice for delivery between August and September to boost its thinning stockpile ahead of the typhoon season later this year.
That variety is trading at around $393-$398 a tonne in Vietnam RI-VNBKN25-P1 and quoted at $393 a tonne RI-THWHT25-A by the Thai Rice Exporters Association.
"That (price ceiling) is the average of all the rice prices including (shipping) expenses," Tomas Escarez, head of the bids and awards panel at the NFA, told reporters after meeting with prospective bidders.
The NFA's initial list of prospective bidders includes Olam International Ltd and Louis Dreyfus Corp of Singapore, and Vietnam Northern Food Corp, also known as Vinafood I, and Vinafood II.
Thai suppliers Asia Golden Rice Co Ltd, Ponglarp Co Ltd, Thai Hua Co Ltd, Capital Cereals Co Ltd and Thai Granlux International Inc, and Vietnamese traders Gentraco and Gia International Corp are also interested in bidding, the NFA said.
Bids must be submitted on or before July 25, when the sealed offers will be opened. The NFA will award a maximum 50,000 tonnes to each winning bidder.
State inventories have shrunk to the least in more than three years, just enough to cover five days of national requirement, or just a fraction of the 30-day buffer stock required during the lean harvest season from July to September.
Escarez said the NFA will also allow local private rice traders to import up to 805,000 tonnes of rice under an annual quota scheme, which should arrive between December and February next year. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Additional reporting by My Pham in HANOI and Patpicha Tanakasempipat in BANGKOK; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)