Thai food exports are thriving as the value in 2011 is expected to touch 855 billion baht thanks to the expanding global economy and disasters in various parts of the world, according to the National Food Institute (NFI).
NFI President Petch Chinabutr reported that the food industry in the first quarter this year expanded both in exports and imports. Export value from January to March 2011 was 222.528 billion baht, up 8.5% year-on-year with a total volume of 8.4 million tons, up 1.8% year-on-year.
Major exports included rice, chicken, canned tuna, vegetables and fruits. Key export markets were Japan, the US and China, which absorbed 15%, 11% and 8% of the total food exports. Meanwhile, import value in the first quarter this year was 78.665 billion baht, up 32.2% year-on-year.
The president expected that the Thai food exports in the second quarter this year would have a total value of 211.734 billion baht, an expansion of 2.6% year-on-year.
Meanwhile, NFI Executive Vice President Dr Amorn Ngammongkolrat projected that the overall Thai food industry this year would grow by 6.5%, nearly similar to the 6.4% growth in 2010. He estimated that the total food export value would be about 855.0 billion baht this year.
Dr Amorn attributed the positive forecast to the expanding global economy, leading to rising food demand plus disasters in Japan, unrest in the Middle East and Africa as well as climate volatility. He however noted that production costs tend to go up following higher prices of raw materials and energy.