ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai food exports surge
Visit Limprana, chairman of the Food Processing Industry Club, yesterday said exports of all food products grew more than 10 percent per year in volume terms as worldwide demand increased, while product value was also higher than in the past. This has resulted in the forecast of export value touching Bt1 trillion within two years.
He said the club planned to discuss with other associations and organisations how to improve the quality of food products to achieve the target and become the world's leading food exporter.
National Food Institute director Petch Chinabutr said Thailand's food exports in the first half of the year were about Bt478 billion. The institute expects a further Bt422 billion in the second half. As a result, exports this year could reach Bt900 billion, representing 12 percent growth from Bt802.65 billion last year.
Besides, export value in May hit a monthly high of Bt93.05 billion, before slipping to Bt91.34 billion in June.
Food exports in the second quarter were Bt255.56 billion, with rice experiencing the highest year-on-year growth at 54 percent for overseas sales of Bt54.85 billion. Sugar exports in the quarter rose by 56 per cent to Bt43.12 billion.
Export growth for both rice and sugar is attributed to the government's policy of allowing higher export quotas, Petch said.
He said the fragile US economy and the financial problems in Europe were not major concerns for Thai exporters, since both markets were no longer the world's biggest importers for the Kingdom's food products, having been overtaken by Japan and Asean.
However, if the economies in the United States and Europe do not recover soon, they will slightly affect Thai food exports in the future, he added.
Petch said that to maintain good export growth in the sector, the new government should formulate a policy to enhance the efficiency of small and medium-sized manufacturers.
Thailand has about 8,000 food-processing plants, of which 200 are large-scale plants, which are not currently facing major problems. The government should, therefore, focus on the remainder, with food safety its top priority, he said.
Pornsilp Patcharintanakul, president of the Agriculture and Food Committee of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said that if the government wanted to revive the Thai Kitchen to the World project, if should formulate a serious food-safety policy.
State agencies should educate farmers on to how to grow products hygienically, and an excise duty should be imposed on farmers or manufactures unable to meet hygiene standards, he said. "A food-safety policy will not genuinely come into being if this practice cannot be implemented," he added.
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