Thailand becomes the most preferred spot for fishery trade, says USDA

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Fish displayed at a supermarket in the Thai capital of Bangkok. Photo/IAC

Thailand has become one of the world’s largest fishery exporters, with the industry generating about 20 percent of total food product exports, according to a latest report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Thailand’s strength in exporting can attributed to its ability to continuously initiate and organize product development and investment in processing technology.

Accordingly, Thailand is able to produce a wide range of product from semi-processed products to high value products and this meets the international standards and demand well, the USDA report said.

Major export items that account for over 70 percent of total fishery products exports include canned tuna and sardines, processed shrimp, prawn, and squid, the report said, adding that raw material sourced from both the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand are decreasing year by year and the industry increasingly relies on imported raw material such as pollock, salmon, and other white and red meat fish.

The food service industry in Thailand targets medium to high end consumers and expatriates who are happy to pay for such premium quality wild seafood such as lobster, Alaska crab, oyster, scallops, and others, it added.

Off late, the USDA said, Thailand has been increasingly encountering challenges to cope with troubled raw material supplies. These include issues like disease outbreak emergences (mostly in shrimp farming), trade barriers from importing countries, and an unfavorable economic situation aswell. But it has been braving it all.

According to the report, Thailand’s domestic demand for fishery products has also witnessed a steady growth, due to increased middle and high-income segment of the population. It has also become a favorite haven for international restaurant chains in forms of franchising and own investment, due to changing lifestyles among Thai people and a booming tourism industry.

According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), about 230,000 restaurants operate in Thailand with total sales of $10.8 billion in 2016.

Restaurants in four-to-five stars hotels, stand-alone restaurants, and Chinese restaurants also serve imported seafood, including cod, halibut, lobster, Alaskan King crab, scallops, oysters, and mussels.

Apart from this, increasing business of online selling and modern day super market culture is also attributed to the increased sales in Thailand’s fish market.

It is estimated by Kasikorn Research that on-line food sales and delivery business totaled $666 million in 2016, the report pointed out, adding that this marketing channel was very popular in big cities like Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai.

Uttara is a correspondent with Indoasiancommodities. You can write to her on uttara.malhotra@indoasiancommodities.in.

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