Thai food sector innovates, offers alternatives

Thailand’s food industry is set to grow in 2020 and the private and public sectors look set to capitalise with innovative partnerships and investments. 

Currently, the food industry is contributing around 23 per cent of the country’s GDP. With its large labour force and high investment rate in research and development, the food industry has become a vital cog in Thailand’s economic machine. 

The Kasikorn Research Center has predicted that the ready-to-eat food market may reach 20.2-20.5 billion baht, increasing at a rate of 3.0-5.0 per cent year-on-year in 2020, thanks to the diversity of new products developed by entrepreneurs and corporations. 

The domestic food and beverage market will likely grow at a pace of only 2.4-4.4 per cent year-on-year to 2.46-2.51 trillion baht in 2020. 

Among institutions to capitalise on the growing sector is Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Agro-Industry. In partnership with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), the University will be developing new curriculums in food processing for food entrepreneurs. 

“There is an increasing trend of healthy food consumption among consumers. The products that consumers are seeking in the future must be made from natural ingredients with less processing or cooking to keep fresh nutrients. The entrepreneurs have to respond to the consumer’s needs,” said Suphan Mongkolsuthree, Chairman of the FTI.

One of the faculty’s goals in establishing the partnership is to develop the potential of the agricultural industry in Thailand, especially in regard to food, to be able to compete at the global level, said Anuwat Jangchad, Dean of the Faculty of Agro-Industry at Kasetsart University.

According to the Kasikorn Research Center, some large-scale Thai companies have expanded their production and distribution bases to other countries, so the value of export items, such as fishery products, canned and processed seafood, and non-alcoholic beverages face a deceleration.

The research house expects the export value of food and beverages in 2020 to be between US$26 billion-US$27.1 billion, which would represent a contraction of -2.0 per cent.

Consumers, especially those in the labour market, will also change their behaviours and become more price-sensitive, so it is necessary for universities to have a curriculum that boosts human development and encourages entrepreneurship in the food-processing field.

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