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Food exports are projected to reach 1.55 trillion baht this year, and 1.65 trillion baht in 2024, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), and National Food Institute (NFI).
Though drought reduced production of various Thai agricultural produce, exports benefited from increased global demand and prices as El Niño-driven drought conditions hit harvests abroad. Thai exports of rice and sugar saw the biggest increase in export value.
The top two markets for Thai food exports this year are China and ASEAN, with fresh fruits, rice, and sugar rising most in export value.
However, exports of Thai cassava, pineapple, and tuna fell in value due to increased costs, raw material shortages, and sluggish demand from the US, Europe, China and Japan.
Exports are expected to improve in the fourth quarter as new crops reduce raw material costs in the processed seafood and livestock feed sectors, which have been consistently weak in the latter half of the year. As a result, total Thai food exports for 2023 are projected to rise 5.5% from last year to 1.55 trillion baht.
Domestic market growth and a resurgence of demand in the service and tourism sectors are expected to drive further export expansion in 2024.
Thailand bucking global trend
Thai food exports are benefiting from trading partners’ concern over food security, plus the relatively stable baht-dollar exchange rate, according to the FTI, TCC and NFI.
Global food trade so far this year amounts to US$1.824 trillion, a drop of 2.3% from last year due to the sluggish global economy, persistent inflation, weakening consumer purchasing power, and rising interest rates.
However, Thailand's share of the global food market has risen from 2.25% in 2022 to 2.47% this year.
China and Vietnam also increased their market share but India, Indonesia and Malaysia saw theirs fall after limiting agricultural exports to boost food security.
Thailand ranks 12th in global food exports this year, up three places from 15th position in 2022. The US, Brazil, and the Netherlands remain the top three food exporters globally, while China has climbed to the fourth position. Meanwhile, most countries in ASEAN fell in the rankings, except for Vietnam, which rose two positions.
Wisit Limluecha, vice chairman of the TCC and chairman of the Processed Food and Future Food Committee, said the figures showed a global slowdown due to factors including international conflicts and inflation impacting costs and debts, which has hit consumer purchasing power.