Inflation in Thailand is expected to increase by only 0.5% year-on-year in May, the lowest in Asean, because of a decline in the prices of fresh food such as pork and chicken, says Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.
Speaking on Friday about domestic inflation as well as goods and crop prices, Mr Jurin said Thai inflation has eased this year.
The official rate is scheduled to be announced on June 6 by the Trade Policy and Strategy Office.
He said the May rate is considered the lowest in Asean, with Thailand ranking 14th or 15th lowest in terms of inflation among 130 countries.
According to Mr Jurin, the easing of inflation is reflected in the prices of consumer goods, especially food products, which are becoming cheaper.
For example, the price of pork is on a downward trend and is currently lower than the benchmark price by about 40 baht per kilogramme, or 20%, averaging 145 baht per kg.
The average price of chicken is lower than the benchmark price by 6-17%, while the price of eggs (size 3), despite recent increases attributed to hot weather resulting in fewer eggs and smaller sizes, is still lower than the benchmark price by 16%.
Vegetable prices fell this week from the previous week because of increased supply and the Internal Trade Department's support to facilitate the distribution of vegetables to the market, he said.
Mr Jurin said the prices of agricultural products are in a very favourable range. For instance, the prices of all five types of rice are higher than the guaranteed prices provided by the government's income guarantee scheme.
The average price of cassava is 3.35-3.80 baht per kg, higher than the guaranteed price of 2.50 baht per kg, while palm oil is priced at an average of 5-5.50 baht per kg, higher than the guaranteed price of 4 baht per kg.
Fruit is much more expensive this year, especially in the eastern region, which ended its season a few days ago. The average price of export-grade durian last year was 150 baht per kg, while this year it reached 187.50 baht per kg.
As for mangosteen, the average export-grade price ranges from 170-185 baht per kg, up from 140 baht last year.
Fertiliser prices decreased in May from the same month in 2022, in what was a peak period for high prices. Urea fertiliser prices have dipped by 50%, and other fertiliser prices decreased by an average of about 30%.
In the first four months of 2023, Thailand's headline inflation was 3.58% year-on-year, with core inflation for the period at 2.09%.
The Commerce Ministry is maintaining its 2023 forecast for average headline inflation in a range of 1.7-2.7%, after cutting it last month from 2-3%.