Betagro Says Industry Needs Six Months to Recover

THAILAND - Positive statements about the future of the food industry were made at the World of Food Asia 2009 exhibition yesterday but an executive from Betagro said it would take six months for the local pig and poultry industries to return to normal, as long as there are no further crises in the Thai economy.
calendar icon 14 May 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

Thailand's food exports are expected to remain in good shape despite the global economic crisis, with shipments estimated at 780 billion baht (THB) this year driven by frozen processed chicken, frozen shrimp, and processed fruits and vegetables, officials have told Bangkok Post.

The Export Promotion Department, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the trade fair organiser, Koelnmesse GmbH, yesterday opened the Thaifex World of Food Asia 2009 exhibition at Impact Muang Thong Thani.

"Thai food is still globally acceptable and demanded by consumers despite the economic crisis," said Rachane Potjanasuntorn, director-general of the Export Promotion Department, yesterday at the Thaifex-World of Food Asia 2009 exhibition that runs until Sunday.

Despite the recent announcement that Thailand is the 31st country with confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu, the international food fair at Muang Thong Thani is continuing as scheduled with 2,100 booths of international and local exhibitors.

The event is expected to attract up to 100,000 trade visitors and generate transactions of up to US$87 million.

According to Mr Rachane, despite concerns among food exporters about the baht's continuous appreciation, Thai food exports are expected to remain competitive given better food safety and traceability of Thai food products.

"Even though the H1N1 flu in Thailand may affect pork consumption, I've consulted with private exporters and processors and they expect a marginal impact given the high quality of Thai food products," he said.

Thawee Piyapatana, managing director of Pacific Fish Processing Co (PFP), the country's top surimi producer, said the H1N1 outbreak was expected to prompt global consumers to opt for more seafood consumption, which would benefit Thailand's food exports.

PFP expects its sales to grow by 10 per cent this year to THB 3.2 billion, with THB 2 billion coming from from exports and THB 1.2 billion from domestic sales.

The food producer earned THB 1.8 billion from exports last year and THB 1 billion from the home market.

Somroek Tangpiroonthum, managing director of Thai Ha Plc, the manufacturer of farm products under the Kaset brand, said the world's economic crisis and the swine flu outbreak offers a good opportunity for Thailand, which produces high-quality and safe food products.

Thai Ha targeted revenue of THB 2.4 billion this year, up 15 per cent from last year's THB 2.14 billion, through the expansion of its distribution network and markets for bagged rice, ready-to-eat congee and noodle products. Exports represent 60 per cent of the company's sales.

Betagro Group executive vice-president, Nopporn Vayuchote, said it would take about six months for the Thai swine and poultry business to return to normal if no more negative factors affect the Thai economy.

"The flu may affect consumers' confidence to an extent," said Dr Nopporn. "But we still believe the effects will be short-lived, as foreign buyers maintain their purchase orders from Thai processors and the flu increases export opportunities for Thai processed foods."

Betagro, one of the country's largest food processors and exporters, expects its sales to grow to THB 45 billion, THB 1 billion more than last year, with 50 per cent coming from processed foods.

"Sales should recover in the last two quarters following sluggish sales at the beginning of the year," Dr Nopporn told Bangkok Post.

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