Thailand: State to focus on food, beverage exports

The government is being urged to beef up its efforts to boost shipments and promote food and beverage products, now that the two sectors are found to have generated the most income for the nation.

According to Ronnarong Phoolpipat, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO), his office’s latest study has found that food and beverage, especially cereals, animal feed, seasonings and noodles have generated the most income for Thai people as indicated by the proportion of export value coming from Thai-owned companies that make up for as much as 73% of the country’s total annual food and beverage exports.

The local content proportion used by Thai-owned companies is also found to represent up to 81% of their production.

Last year, the food and beverage industries generated revenue of US$20.5 billion to the country, down 7% from the previous year.

In the first eight months of this year, food and beverage industry exports tallied $14.04 billion, up 1.1% from the corresponding period last year.

According to the TPSO study on the status of Thai food and beverage products in the world market, potential export products could be divided into two groups.

The first group is existing strong products which Thailand already boasts a large market share of within the world market and which generate continuously robust export growth such as cereal products, animal feed, seasonings and noodles which are categorised as sunrise products.

The second group is products that experience good export growth, but still control a relatively small market share in the world such as meat and meat-based food, beverages, edible oil from vegetables and animal fats, milk and dairy products flavoured food, bread and bakery, sugar candies and ice cream.

However, Mr Ronnarong said the TPSO study also found there are some Thai food products that witnessed export contraction or slow growth such as vegetables, canned and processed fruits, canned and processed seafood products, sugar and tea.

Thai entrepreneurs need to invest in developing and upgrading their products in keeping with changing consumer behaviour and expand into new export markets to substitute existing markets that may be saturated, Mr Ronnarong said.

He also urged Thai entrepreneurs to follow up on trends in the food and beverage industries, especially changes in consumer behaviour after the Covid-19 pandemic.