Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) is among 12 exporters expecting trade growth of around 3% this year, now that Asian ally South Korea has lifted a 12-year embargo on frozen chicken imports.
On 9 November 2016, South Korea’s government relaxed its import ban on frozen Thai poultry, with both parties agreeing a bilateral trade deal. A ban on fresh poultry was relaxed in 2015.
CP Foods exported its first shipment of frozen poultry to South Korea this month. In total, 15.2 tonnes (t) of chicken has been packaged and sent to South Korea’s capital, Seoul. While it is a small amount, the event marks a step in the right direction for Thailand’s poultry sector, recently rocked by allegations of modern-day slavery and migrant abuse.
Business alliances reforged
“The re-importing this time of South Korea will encourage the Kingdom of Thailand’s chicken export image,” said Virachai Ratanabanchuen, chief operating officer of CP Foods’ Livestock Feed Business unit in a press statement on 15 December.
“CP Foods is confident in our world-class processing standards focusing on quality and food safety. Our old customers [from South Korea] are also resuming orders with us.”
The business welcomed South Korean food safety and veterinary inspectors to three of its manufacturing sites in September 2016. CP Foods’ processing factories in Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi and Minburi were duly approved for exports by Korean officials, resulting in a restoration of frozen poultry trade.
At a distance of some 5,000 kilometres by sea, South Korea’s geographic proximity to Thailand makes it a strong trading partner. It also provides its poultry with an advantage over bigger exporters from Brazil, the European Union (EU) and the US – all major exporters to South Korea.
Thailand’s Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, General Chatchai Sarikulya, said the government expected frozen poultry export volumes to Korea to hit 100 tonnes by the end of 2016