New Thai export goals prioritize pet food

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The Thai Ministry of Commerce is aiming for Thailand to become one of the top five exporters in the Asia region by 2027. Based on export value statistics for 2021, Thailand is currently the ninth largest exporter in Asia. In its recent announcement, the ministry noted the commissioning of a five-year action plan from 2023-2027 and identified several products critical to helping Thailand achieve its aims, including pet food, farm and food products, and industrial products like automobiles and auto parts, among others. 

The decision comes on the heels of the Institute for Management Development’s World Competitiveness Rankings 2022, which shows Thailand has slipped five spots to number 33 in terms of trade competitiveness globally. At present, Thailand also ranks eighth in Asia in trade competitiveness. 

The ministry is expecting to organize more than 450 activities to stimulate exports growth, including trade missions and participation in international fairs. Beyond established Western markets, Thailand also seeks to target other potential markets: the Middle East, South Asia, China, as well as the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The country also plans to establish new trade with Central Asian and Nordic countries. 

Is pet food a shining example for Thai exports?

According to the International Trade Center, Thailand is already the top exporter of pet food in all of Asia. Its exports are valued at US$2.05 billion in 2021, an 81% increase compared to 2017. That puts the country behind only Germany (US$2.66 billion) and the U.S. (US$2.07 billion) in terms of global exports in 2021. Yet, considering Thailand’s total exports for 2021 reached a value of US$267.49 billion, pet food exports accounted for only 0.77% of that. 

The space available for Thailand to continue growing its pet food export market over the next five years is significant, as the country can continue to leverage its low labor costs and high pet food production values to penetrate more deeply into the above-targeted export markets. Another factor that marks Thailand’s rise to the top of the pet food export market is the growing trend of pet humanization and pet food premiumization taking place within the country, with the local market crossing US$1.4 billion in value in 2022.  

The top five countries account for 64.31% of all Thai pet food exports: the U.S. (30.01%), Japan (14.68%), Malaysia (7.07%), Italy (6.66%) and Australia (5.90%). The top 15 countries account for 90.73% of all Thai pet food exports.

Second largest pet food exporter to China

In the context of China, where Thailand has a market share of pet food exports of 2.77%, the country has 33 pet food and pet food ingredient facilities registered with China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC). This places Thailand in the second most registered position for China, after the U.S., which has 88 registered facilities with GACC. If Thailand wants to outcompete the U.S. in the Chinese market, it will have to streamline registration of its facilities.  

Sipra is a researcher and writer. He writes and reviews climate, environment, business and management articles for academic and industry publications, such as GreenBiz.

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