No threat of Thai food shortages, Jurin insists
Country unlikely to impose export bans
Although the Russia-Ukraine war has many countries worried about food security, leading to export bans to ensure domestic supply, the government and corporate groups insist that Thailand has no threat of shortages.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, presiding over the opening ceremony of the THAIFEX-ANUGA ASIA 2022 exhibition, said Thailand has plentiful food supplies.
In fact, he said the timing offers a good opportunity to present Thailand as a global hub of quality agricultural products and food, helping to increase food-related shipments.
In recent days, many Asian countries have curbed shipments of their agricultural commodities to protect their consumers from surging prices. Malaysia banned poultry exports, while India restricted sugar exports for the first time in six years to prevent a surge in domestic prices and asked traders to secure permission for overseas sale of the sweetener from June 1 to Oct 31.
Mr Jurin said the Commerce Ministry has kept a close watch on domestic stocks of key food items to ensure sufficient amounts. The ministry also plans to promote exports of items that exceed Thai demand.
The food and beverage industry plays a vital role in the Thai economy. Thailand is the 13th biggest exporter of food to the world with a market share of 2.3%, and is the fourth biggest in Asia.
Despite the broad range of international trade constraints caused by the global pandemic, Thailand's food and beverage sector exports were worth more than 286 billion baht in the first quarter of 2022, growing 28.8% year-on-year.
Prasit Boondoungprasert, chief executive of Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), said food export bans were unlikely in Thailand as the country has an overcapacity for many food items.
"This period offers a great opportunity for the country to drive Thailand's food brand to the world market," he said.
"With growing concerns about a food crisis, many food importing countries have returned to buy food products from Thailand. Thailand should beef up its strategy to build up the Thai image of food safety, and as a leading food producer in Asia."
According to Mr Prasit, after the Malaysian government banned poultry exports on May 24, Singapore was the first country to contact CPF to buy chicken. The company is ready to export poultry products because chicken production is around 60-70% oversupplied in Thailand, he said.
However, Mr Prasit warned for the remainder of the year there were still some key risks because of tight raw material supplies such as fertiliser and maize, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and new diseases in humans and animals.
Visit Limlurcha, honorary president of the Thai Food Processors Association, said Thailand has no concerns over food security, although the prices of some food items have become more expensive due to higher raw material costs.
Mr Visit brushed aside the possibility of food shortages, as imports account for only 25% of raw materials used in production.
"The bustling Thaifex food expo is expected to draw a healthy crowd from participants and visitors," he said.
"With the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war resulting in rising food demand worldwide, we should take this opportunity to boost our exports."
The Department of International Trade Promotion, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Koelnmesse Germany organised the exhibition, Asia's most comprehensive international food and beverage trade show, with both a physical and virtual format allotted for this week.
The physical trade exhibition is taking place from May 24-28 at Challenger Hall 1-3 and IEC Hall 5-10 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.
The expo is expected to welcome 75,000 visitors, while more than 3,500 online visitors are forecast at www.thaifex-vts.com.
The event is projected to generate total purchase orders of 10 billion baht, with the physical event logging 9.55 billion baht.
- Thai food