Thailand aiming to be ‘Top Five’ food exporter

Thailand’s success as the only net food exporter in Asia is a foundation for future achievement as the Kingdom should use new technology to become one of the top five food exporting countries in the world during the next 20 years, according to plans and recommendations issued last week by the National Food Institute, a government agency.

Thailand’s superb quality jasmine fragrant rice, bountiful shrimp, delicious fruits and delectable cuisine already have well-established reputations around the world, but industry analysts believe that current levels of food exports provide just a taste of what the Kingdom can accomplish. Thailand’s food output also makes a significant contribution to regional and global food security, an increasingly important issue considering the effects of climate change.

Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, vice president of the National Food Institute (NFI), said demand for Thai food is forecast to rise in several markets. By adopting new food technology and innovations that food improve quality, add value and create new food products, Thai food exports can establish a solid foothold in new markets.

One example of Thailand’s growing prowess in new food technology was the announcement last week by the Thai Research Fund that it is working with the Royal Projects Foundation in developing a new strain of strawberries with properties that help fight cancer. The strawberries contain high levels of anthrocynanin, an anti-carcinogen, aside from being full of flavor.

“We have already come up with a strawberry variety that contains the desirable qualities, but we are still experimenting with it and can’t disclose details yet,” said Narongchai Pipattanawong, the marketing director of the Royal Project Foundation. “Our strawberry will be able to combat cancers.”

Thailand is already a global top-10 exporter of top-quality rice, sugar, bananas and a major producer and shipper of seafood, fruits and vegetables and chicken meat. More recently, processed food products from Thai companies have seen their market shares overseas grow and make larger contributions to national export totals.

Thailand ranks 13th among global food exporters, with a value of roughly $27 billion per year. To achieve its 20-year goal, Thailand should reach the top 10 in food exports within a decade, with export value of $63 billion, said the NFI’s Nuttapon.

The government expects Thai food exports to grow 8 percent next year, with export value exceeding $27 billion. Higher export volumes for rice, canned tuna, sugar, ready-to-eat food, seasoning products, fruit juices and cassava starch are expected to drive growth.