News From : DagangHalal.com (02 Feb 2010)
The National Food Institute (NFI) aims for Thailand’s food exports to grow by 10% per year to 1.1 trillion baht by 2014, up from 750 billion baht last year, with innovation and food safety paving the way, says acting president Amorn Ngammongkolrat.
The NFI estimates that next year Thailand’s food exports will total from 790 billion to 800 billion baht due to global recovery and an increase in many food product prices.
Food exports last year totalled about 750 billion baht, down from 780 billion in 2008 due to high commodity prices.
“Our initial forecast is that the food industry should grow and the world economic situation should improve. We may benefit from the difficulties of others, such as our competitors’ natural disasters, which has resulted in increased exports for our country,” said Dr Amorn.
“Although there might not be many advantages or disadvantages due to the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta), we should focus on how we are going to expand to other markets in Asean.”
Thailand’s current market share for food exports in Asean is 15%. Business should benefit from the Asean market’s increase in population, said Dr Amorn.
“If you look at each country, the country with the most population [in Asean] is Indonesia. Two hundred million out of Indonesia’s population of 280 million are Muslims, so we should look at how we can export halal food, as a new target market,” said Dr Amorn.
Halal food contributed 84 billion baht, 11%, of Thailand’s food exports last year.
“If we are able to penetrate the halal market, it should help. But it’s not easy because Indonesia is a Muslim country and they have religious institutions that monitor food and must give approval for imports,” said Dr Amorn.
Businesses also still need to maintain and improve food safety, to prevent competitors such as China or Vietnam from developing an advantage, he added.
Organic food will become increasingly important as consumers are becoming more health-conscious, he said.
“Also, we need to switch from mass production to manufacturing value-added products, and there needs to be research and development in this area,” said Dr Amorn.
Processed food contributed 52% of food exports, or 390 billion baht, in 2009.
NFI vice-president Orawan Kaewprakaisangkul warned that business operators this year should be cautious about the Thai currency.
The industry sector forecasts the baht should stay between 32 to 34 to the US dollar, and this should create stability for the industry, said Mrs Orawan.
A stable currency is important because many food products are forward-trading.