Thailand is a leading global supplier of a wide variety of commodities and products and remains a strong agricultural competitor as it is the world’s leading exporter of natural rubber, frozen shrimp, canned tuna, canned pineapples, cooked poultry, and cassava. It is also a major exporter of sugar and rice.
Roughly 50% of total land area in the country is used for agricultural purposes, allowing over 80% of raw materials to be used in the food industry which can be sourced locally at competitive prices.1 The country is a top-ten global producer of some important agricultural products including rice, cassava, sugarcane, palm oil, coconut, pineapple, and natural rubber.
Hosting roughly 9,000 food processing companies in Thailand, the country is the main producer and exporter for several processed foods including canned tuna, frozen seafood, shrimp, and chicken.1 Processed food exports contribute about 52% of total food exports and account for nearly 15% of Thai manufacturing
Minimally Processed Foods
As one of the world’s leading producers of agricultural commodities, Thailand’s food supply is large enough to serve the global market. Raw materials are processed to increase the products’ shelf life and quality. Thailand produced over 2.4 million tons of chicken and over 200,000 tons of shrimp in 2016, placing the country in the top five globally as both a chicken and shrimp exporter. Approximately 70% of poultry production is locally consumed. This number is expected to increase by 4-5% in 2017, from around 1.7 million tons in 2016.3 Thailand also supplies various frozen seafood products such as frozen cuttlefish and fish meat to serve consumers throughout the world.
Moderately Processed Foods
To further extend shelf life and add more value to local agricultural and fisheries products, Thailand adopted canning, high-technology freeze drying, and other preservation processes. The country is recognized as the top exporter of many canned foods such as canned pineapple and tuna. The country exported over USD 2 billion in canned tuna and USD 611 million in canned pineapple in 2016 and stood as the top global exporte or both products.
Highly Processed Foods
With strong support from the government, Thai manufacturers are investing considerable resources in research and development to boost their productivity and efficiency. Many companies are using computerized systems to control their production processes. Combined with the changing lifestyles of consumers, purchases of processed foods are rapidly growing. Ready meals, convenient meat and meat products have shown both strong domestic and export demand.
Urbanization and increasingly busy lifestyles are the main drivers of the double-digit ready meal growth rate in Thailand. In addition to the emerging local demand, Thailand is also a prime production base for ready meals.
Processed Halal Foods
Demand for halal foods has undergone tremendous growth in the last few years. The global halal food market is projected to be worth USD 1.6 trillion by 2018, accounting for an
estimated 16 percent of the total global food industry.Thailand currently ranks 13th among
the world’s largest halal food producers.
Surrounded by countries with large Muslim populations, Thailand is considered an ideal investment destination. The country’s major export markets are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Currently, there are more than 8,000 factories and over 150,000 products receiving halal certification.
Thailand’s strengths in food processing have also brought the country to global prominence in the seasonings and ingredients industries. The value of Thailand’s food ingredients exports in 2016 reached USD 616 million. With over 550 manufacturers, The top export destinations are Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, and Malaysia.
High-tech Food Ingredients
As the world’s largest exporter of cassava products, Cassava starch is used as an ingredient in many products such as breads, frozen foods, and confectionery. By prioritizing research and development, the country is becoming an important production hub for advanced food ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, e.g. maltitol, crystalline, sorbitol, and high-quality monosodium glutamate (MSG). Offering a variety of raw materials, leading global companies manufacture their food ingredient products in Thailand for export back to their home countries, as well as for the global market.
Beverages are also recognized as a huge industry in Thailand. The largest export destinations are ASEAN countries including Vietnam,Cambodia, and Myanmar
With growing demand for premium products, Thai consumers are looking for more-sophisticated flavors and are increasingly concerned about their nutritional intake. They are therefore more willing to pay for products with better functionality. As a result, functional drinks are enjoying increasing popularity among Thai consumers. This market is expected to grow as consumers focus on their well-being.Collagen and hyaluronic acid are among the ingredients being added to beverages for functions such as improving the skin’s smoothness and delaying the aging process.
Changes in consumer behavior and an increasing focus on health are the driving factors in continued demand for fruit juices in Thailand.As the land of tropical and citrus fruits, Thailand has around 100 juice manufacturers3 supplying various high-quality fruit juices to the global market, such as coconut,pineapple, orange, tomato and guava, and other high quality juices.
Organic products are an emerging but increasingly important category in Thailand. Consumers are more sophisticated and becoming aware of the benefits of organic foods. Almost 300,000 rai (118,610 acres) in Thailand are being used for organic agriculture.Organic rice is the largest sector, accounting for 65% of the total organic food market.Organic products from Thailand are exported and sold in many well-known global supermarket chains and organic-focused retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Wal-Mart.
Dietary Supplements and Medical Foods
Sales of dietary supplements and vitamins in Thailand rose to over More Thais are shifting towards living a healthy lifestyle and increasing numbers of consumers are starting to take care of their health at a younger age.
Healthy Fats and Oil
With abundant high-quality raw materials,various premium healthy oils are being developed to serve the market such as rice bran, sunflower, and coconut oils. With strong support from the government in research and development, Thailand is well-positioned as one of the leading players in the global rice bran oil market.Rice bran offers important benefits due to its high levels of omega fatty acids which promote cardiovascular health.Major export destinations include South Korea, Australia, and the US.
High Value-Added Food Packaging
Boosted by a supportive government, Thailand has pro-actively adopted advanced technologies and policies to encourage food production that ensures safety and quality. With over 2,000 food packaging manufacturers.Thailand is home to many leading Japanese, American, and European food packaging companies including Amcor, Huhtamaki, Majend Makcs, and Sealed Air
To retain its position as a world leader in the food processing industry and adapt to the changing lifestyles of consumers convenient, safe, impurity-free, functional, and eco-friendly designed food packaging will continue to be major priorities in Thailand.
Source : BOI