Mr Kunawut Boonyanopakun, project manager at NIA, told FoodNavigator-Asia that Thailand’s organic business had grown substantially over the past four years. “Since 2006, we have started over 40 projects with an investment of 33m Thai Baht in organic agriculture as well as food processing.”
He revealed that about 70% of Thailand’s locally produced organic foods are being exported overseas, mainly to Europe, US, Japan and Singapore. From the initial organic foods of rice, fresh fruits and vegetables, Thai organic products now include dried fruits, canned fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, and processed cereal foods.
Mr Chatchapol, managing director of SEA Organics, a Thailand-based food company producing tapioca, sugar and sweeteners revealed the firm has been collaborating with NIA on several projects.
The MD told this publication: “Our organic food business has been expanding by an average of 60% annually with about 99% of the total output allocated to exports to Europe, USA and Japan. I hope that the business will continue to grow despite the current bleak economic outlook.”
In a bid to increase the profile of its organic industry, the Ministry of Commerce in Thailand has embarked on developing an organic food community in the country to encourage more domestic consumption of organic produce, as well as putting in place a system whereby consumers order organic food directly from their suppliers instead of via retail outlets thus reducing distribution costs for the consumers.
Furthermore, the NIA set up the Organic Agriculture Innovation Network three months ago with Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi in Thailand. The initiative involves the academics and food companies collaborating to research and exchange knowledge on how to improve the yield and quality of organic produce.
Thailand’s organic food industry has benefited from trends such as the growing health awareness among consumers, the development of sustainable agriculture in response to crises faced by the farming community, and the depressed farm prices and declining productivity of high-input cash-crop monoculture that has led to many NGOs pushing for a more environmentally sustainable agriculture.