Exports of cassava products surge as Ukraine war disrupts grain supplies

Exports of cassava products surge as Ukraine war disrupts grain supplies

Farmers plant cassava in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Phimai district. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Farmers plant cassava in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Phimai district. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thailand’s exports of cassava products between January and April jumped 28% from the same period last year as importers sought grain alternatives, a senior official said on Monday, amid a food crisis brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The world's largest cassava exporter shipped 4.6 million tonnes of cassava and its products including tapioca, cassava starch and pellets worth 54.8 billion baht in the first four months of the year, up 28.2% from the same period a year earlier, the Commerce Ministry said.

Nearly 70% of exports went to China. Other destinations included Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

Countries are scrambling to contain inflation rates that have shot up across the world on post-pandemic demand, extreme weather impacts, and more recently the war in Ukraine. Some have allocated billions in food and fuel subsidies while others have sought alternative foods and new suppliers.

Last week, Ukraine, sometimes known as Europe's bread basket, said Russia's invasion would cause a global wheat shortage.

"There has been increased demand from foreign buyers during the Ukraine-Russia crisis. The world is increasing grain reserves for consumption," said senior commerce official Phithak Udomwichaiwat.

"The animal feed and energy industries have turned to imports of cassava products as replacements, driving up demand and prices," he added.

Thailand last year produced 32.5 million tonnes of cassava, which are made into various products, of which 30% to 35% are consumed domestically. The country exported 123 billion baht worth of cassava products, government data shows. 

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