Frozen seafood exports await thaw
Thai frozen seafood exports are expected to recover in the third and fourth quarters after plummeting 9.8% in the first quarter as a result of worldwide lockdown measures to curb coronavirus spread.
Poj Aramwattananont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said shipments should survive a contraction or flat growth in the second quarter and start recovering in the subsequent quarters.
"Thanks to Thailand's effective controls on the spread of Covid-19, Thai seafood has earned a better image in food safety," Mr Poj said. "More importantly, Thai producers have been able to cope with higher demand from retailers, while tuna and canned sardines are in strong demand."
He forecasts overall frozen seafood exports to grow by more than 10% this year from 100.83 billion baht in 2019.
Because the outbreak led several countries to introduce lockdown measures, Thailand's shipments of frozen seafood fell by 9.8% in the first quarter from 37.91 billion baht in the same quarter last year.
Thailand has in fact seen a contraction in seafood exports over the last six years because of raw material shortages, early mortality syndrome in shrimp and the EU's fishing regulations.
Shipments last year fell 8.4% from 110.05 billion baht.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, who met officials from seafood producers yesterday, said Thailand can restore seafood exports if the public and private sectors work closely together to boost shipments, particularly for key products like canned tuna and sardines, tuna-based animal feeds, shrimp, squid and fish.
The Commerce Ministry vows to rev up trade talks, particularly with Europe, Britain and Africa, while trying its best to get the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership signed by the end of the year as scheduled.
The ministry is committed to partnering with the private sector to tap markets like China, Russia and South Africa and raise Thai producers' seafood market share in those countries.
According to Mr Jurin, the government will also join with the private sector in beefing up public relations, especially on food safety issues.