August 18, 2011

Thailand: Kitchen of the World

BANGKOK, Aug. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans love dining at Thai restaurants, but few realize that many of their meals at home may also be Thai. One of the world's top exporters of processed food, Thailand leads the market for canned tuna, frozen seafood, canned pineapple, rice and chicken.

Over 10,000 companies--including Nestle, Cargill, Unilever, Jelly Belly and Dole--currently enjoy Thailand's competitive advantage in food-processing, sourcing some 80 percent of raw materials locally. The country's agricultural roots and natural resources--along with investments in international quality standards and cutting-edge technology--have earned Thailand the sobriquet "Kitchen of the World."

"Thailand has been the largest processed foods exporter in Asia for many years," said Atchaka Sibunruang, Secretary-General of the Thailand Board of Investment. "The country's emphasis on research and technology is driving the investment we're seeing today."

Companies have access to high-tech research and development centers like the Thailand Food Export Center, which provides resources to small and medium sized enterprises, that take advantage of the industry's established investment flows and knowledge.

In fact, the value of Thai food exports is expected to surpass $33 billion within the next two years, thanks to continued high global demand with sales this year predicted to hit $30 billion, representing over 28 percent of total GDP. Recent investments include:

  • International poultry producer Cargill will spend $100 million to increase annual production capacity of cooked poultry products in Thailand by approximately 24,000 metric tons.
  • Jelly Belly will produce the company's newest flavor combination in Thailand, where over 2 billion beans are produced each year.
  • DKSH Holdings invested in a new innovation center in Thailand as part of an initiative to introduce concepts and ingredients to the local confectionery and bakery industry. The center is the company's sixth facility it has opened at its Bangkok site, and one of 18 innovation centers it runs in Europe, Asia and North America.

And the industry keeps growing. From Asia-inspired ready-to-eat meals and Halal meat to organic condiments, industry leaders have taken advantage of the government's initiatives--tax incentives, land rights for foreign investors and technology transfers--to upgrade technology and expand markets.

This autumn Bangkok will host Food Ingredients Asia (Sept. 21-23), as well as Thailand-born conference, Food Packaging Asia (Sept. 21-23).

For more information about the Thailand Board of Investment, visit

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Rick Weddle

SOURCE Thailand Board of Investment