Export earnings from food will grow by 10.3 per cent next year to BT607.1 billion (€12.8bn), said deputy executive director of the institute Yuthasak Supasorn, speaking at the annual NFI roundtable. The volume of food exports in 2007 is expected to reach 25.82 million tonnes, up 9.8 per cent from this year's target of 23.52 million tonnes, according to a report on the speech by The Nation newspaper. Supasorn said the economic recovery of the Thailand's major markets, including Japan and Europe, will lead to higher earnings while natural disasters in some of the country's main competitors such as China, Taiwan and Vietnam is raising prices for Thailand's agricultural products like rice and tapioca. Yuthasak added that the government is planning to set up a traceability system to control the quality of agricultural products from farmers, logistics operators and food processors and manufacturers. The government wants to emphasise the safety of the manufacturing process and good after-sales service, rather than competing solely on the basis of cheaper prices, according to the report. Like most markets, Thai exporters are facing higher costs caused by soaring oil prices and they are also dealing with high interest rates, a result of the currently unstable political scene. Nevertheless, in the first half of the year Thai food exports were worth BT259 billion, an increase of 5.9 per cent over the same period last year. The country is also seeing rising demand from its domestic food industry for food ingredients and raw materials. Last year, Thai consumers spent BT197 billion (€4 billion) on packaged foods, an increase of 6 per cent on the prior year, according to Euromonitor figures. And according to a report from the US Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), Thailand imported US$2.7 billion worth of food ingredients in 2004, double the amount of ten years earlier. FiAsia, a food ingredients exhibition, opens in Bangkok this week, expected to attract thousands of buyers from around south-east Asia to the increasingly important Thai food market.