Chamber suggests help for agriculture

Chamber suggests help for agriculture

Industry bullish on food exports in 2020

The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) is demanding the government provide stronger support for the 12.3 million people working in the agricultural sector to improve the economy and exports.

From left  Kornchawan Somphakdee, chief executive of Kora Enterprise Plc, Mr Dan, Mr Phusit and Mr Visit discuss the importance of helping farmers develop value-added products during an online seminar on food processing. (Photo: PostToday)

The group forms the bulk of the country's food producers, who play an important role in determining Thailand's export and economic development in the future, TCC vice-chairman Poj Aramwattananont said yesterday.

Thailand is the world's 11th largest food exporter, with a global market share of 2.51%, according to the National Food Institute.

Yet this ranking is not satisfactory as there is still more room for improvement, said the chamber.

TCC wants to see significant development of high value-added products in agriculture to help bolster food exports.

Not only will farmers and entrepreneurs rack up more revenue as a result of product upgrades, but the country can also improve its food exports, helping to deal with the Covid-19 economic impact, said the chamber.

Market potential for food exports exists even during the pandemic, he said.

"Thailand expects food shipments will increase by 0.8% to 1.02 trillion baht this year because of demand growth in food and food processing in the global market," Mr Poj told a webinar, co-organised by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, the chamber and Post Today.

Bright outlook

Visit Limlurcha, president of the Thai Food Processors Association, said the Thai food industry has promising prospects because of the Covid-19 outbreak, which brought about higher demand, particularly for healthy, functional and processed food.

"During the crisis, demand for food, especially items that have a long shelf life, has surged," said Mr Visit, also vice-president of Thai National Shippers' Council.

"Consumers are stocking up in case of a major outbreak or a return to lockdown measures.

"In the first seven months this year, robust purchase demand was visible, particularly for chicken, canned and processed seafood, fruit, food seasonings for cooking at home, beverages and beverages with added vitamins."

Poj: Farmers key to future economy

More homework

However, he advised Thai food producers to adjust their production to cater to changing consumer behaviour and markets, with an example the shift to new protein sources such as insects and plants.

Mr Visit urged the government to promote food industries by improving big data systems to help farmers and producers better cultivate their crops.

The government also needs to guillotine existing laws and regulations that are obstacles to industry development, he said.

"Thai food producers should adjust their production in line with world trends and try to strengthen their businesses in response to demand for nutritious, functional and holistic food to serve different age ranges and religions," said Phusit Sasitaranondha, managing director of Expolink GlobalNetwork & Koelnmesse Pte.

"Story-telling is a global trend Thai food producers need to adopt, telling their own stories to customers to help sell their products. Food safety and traceability are also important issues, followed by effective food waste management, and building trust among consumers."

The US-China trade stand-off offers an opportunity to Thai food exporters because Chinese shipments to the US, Europe and Australia face higher tariffs, said Dan Pathomvanich, chief executive of NR Instant Produce, a manufacturer and exporter of food and condiments.

Mr Dan said the pandemic is an opportunity for Thai food industries in the world market, as many Thai food products can be used for cooking at home.

"One of the key challenges to increase Thai food exports is how to sell more Thai food and food-related products such as seasonings and raw materials through existing online platforms and supermarkets in foreign countries," he said.

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