Thailand: Food shipments remain bright spot despite virus

Thailand’s food industry remains promising, driven by rising food demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the “Thai Food, World Food” fair, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said despite a weak global economy, the ongoing trade spate, a strong baht and the deadly virus outbreak, Thailand has been doing well in food exports.

“Thailand is the 11th largest food exporter in the world, with food shipments generating US$33.1 billion in 2019, up 3% from 2018. We expect Thailand to be able to improve its ranking and become a global hub for quality agricultural products and food, driven by higher demand for food, be it vegetables, fruit, frozen seafood, frozen chicken, canned tuna, frozen and processed shrimp, refined sugar, beverages, seasonings or pet food,” he said.

Mr Jurin cited key supporting factors including an abundance of raw materials, advanced processing technology, excellent marketing, quality products and product diversity.

He said the Commerce Ministry pledges to work closely with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to drive a marketing-led production strategy, adding value to Thai foods through innovation, launching more proactive marketing, upgrading logistics and revving up international trade talks to raise food exports.

The two ministries recently set up four working groups chaired by their permanent secretaries to supervise four key missions for the marketing strategy. The ministries are also jointly developing a single big data system for agricultural products and establishing a central digital platform.

The two ministries are committed to building up confidence in the quality, food safety and traceability of Thai farm products, while developing people and products to serve market demand for both offline and online channels.

Earlier in April, the cabinet approved an action plan for food processing industry development for 2019-27 and a supporting budget of 6.6 billion baht. The plan aims to make Thailand an Asean processed food hub and one of the top 10 food exporters to the global market by 2027.

The goal is to upgrade the processing of targeted food such as rice, fishery products, vegetables and fruit, livestock and biofood, as well as beefing up food packaging.