Positive prospects for Thai meat exports

Despite the health crisis, meat exports from Thailand are expected to appreciate this year, driven by rising intra-regional trade. CHAKRIT RIDMONTRI  writes that poultry exports hit a snag in Q3 2020 because importers cut orders due to the onset of lockdowns. But exporters have confirmed that recovery is imminent.

Prasit Boondoungprasert

“Covid-19 has dented purchasing power globally but this will only have a short-term impact on Thai exports. This does not translate to a decline in demand for food. “Demand is recovering and once the pandemic is under control, meat exports from Thailand would be boosted significantly,” said CPF’s CEO Prasit Boondoungprasert.

Driving growth is increasing demand from China and intra-regional Asean trade.

In the first quarter of the year, chicken exports from Thailand to China jumped 47% to USD 72.3 million. Throughout the year, Thailand is expected to ship 100,000 tonnes of chicken meat, mainly paws and wing tips, to China.

Thailand shipped 65,420 tonnes of chicken products worth USD 171 million to China last year. It is expected to double to USD 364 million this year.

Apart from China, shipments to Asean nations are also likely to grow. The recent approval of chilled chicken imports from Thailand by Singapore Food Authority (SFA) will see 1000 tons of chicken exported from Thailand to Singapore this year.

Thailand exported 954,000 tonnes of chicken meat products last year valued at USD 3.5 billion, mainly to Japan and the EU.

Pork exports

For pork, as Thailand remains free from ASF, live pig and pork exports from Thailand are increasing on the back of the shortage resulting from the ASF epidemic.

Thailand shipped 736,700 pigs valued at USD 87.25 million last year. Exports are escalating this year and has reached a high of 6500 pigs/day in March or about 14% of the pig production in Thailand.

Chilled pork exports are also increasing significantly, especially to Hong Kong. After ASF hit China, which is the main supplier of live pigs and pork to the island, Hong Kong’s pork imports from Thailand increased rapidly.

Between January and February, chilled pork shipments from Thailand to Hong Kong hovered at USD 10.6 million.

Prapoj Choakpichitchai, President of the Swine Producers and Processors for Exporting Association, said the jump in chilled pork exports to Hong Kong was due to changing requirements from retail packs to wholesale carcasses by Kong Kong traders.

The shift, he added, was a result of severe shortage of pork in China.   “This trend will continue for a long time and we can expect a jump in pork exports to Hong Kong in the future,” said Mr Prapoj.

Tips to boost food exports

The pandemic has brought about a shift in consumer demand and food authorities in countries around the globe. CPF’s CEO Prasit Boondoungprasert shared these changes with Asian Agribiz, and offered insights on how to adapt.

“Food safety measures will be increasingly stringent, especially with safety requirements on packaging. Based on this, I am confident that frozen food will become popular again. It’s long shelf life and high protection against contaminants and damage during transportation and storage reinforces the ‘safe’ perception of frozen products,” he said.

To be successful in the food business in the future, Mr Prasit said food producers and exporters need to beef up safety measures of their entire value chain. Additionally, it is necessary to have innovations that are in step with changing demands of consumers.

Mr Prasit foresees that the main growth in demand will be in China. After Covid-19 in the country is contained, there will be a tremendous increase in demand.

Despite China’s commitment to open its market for meat and poultry supplies from the US, recent Covid-19 outbreaks in US meat plants will curb overseas shipments.

Another country that CPF is focusing on is Singapore. Stagnated food supplies from its existing suppliers such as Malaysia is destabilizing food security in the Republic.

“Singapore is a major buyer of RTE meals from Thailand and has recently opened its market for fresh eggs and chilled chicken from Thailand. We will make Singapore a constant buyer of our food and meat products in the long-term,” he said.