Fruit and vegetables to Thailand

Trends and opportunities

The market

The Thai fresh produce market is enjoying rapid growth due to high demand from retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors.

Although imported produce remains a luxury item, changes in consumer spending patterns, high levels of tourism plus a large number of expatriates living in Thailand, is driving high levels of competition between fresh food supermarkets, which carry a wide array of imported produce on shelves in Bangkok and in the major provincial centers of Thailand.

Fresh produce is one of the main profit-making categories for retailers, who play close attention to quality and presentation with vivid colour displays to attract high value customers. Most have imported fresh produce displayed year round to serve this rising consumer group.

Common store formats include large hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores, which continue to compete in the market. These retailers provides good opportunities for success in the import produce category.

Thailand is the region’s key food manufacturing hub, catering to domestic and international markets. New demand in the manufacturing sector for quality raw materials, to supply export markets with high food standards continues to expand, alongside Thailand’s own strong commitment to international food safety standards.

This commitment means Australian producers can leverage their reputation as safe, quality and traceable suppliers into Thailand’s food manufacturing sector.

Thailand’s food service sector also continues to rise as Thais continue to dine out on levels not seen in Australia. The sector continuously strives to serve this rising demand with new trends and new menu offerings to satisfy the urbanised, healthy lifestyle of Thai consumers.

Australian exporters have a particular seasonal opportunity from July to March to export into the Thai market, whereas domestic tropical produce is abundant and cheap between April-June and tends to dominate sales during this time.

Local produce remains very popular, is suited to local tastes and retails at significantly lower prices (compared to imported produce). However, recent increased climatic variance has resulted in inconsistent production and higher market prices for domestic seasonal produce, creating a wider window of opportunity for imported supplies and is successful when paired with strong promotional campaigns which support the awareness of and sale of imported fruits.

Imported vegetables tend to have significant shelf space, still notably from China, but there is a growing demand from consumers for imported vegetables from other sources. Australian carrots for instance has a significant market share. There is also increasing shelf space dedicated to leafy greens (salad mixes), celery, parsnips, and broccoli. These tend to enter the market in small consolidated lots, but still show a steady supply into the market

Opportunities

Based on current demand, consumer preferences and competition, the Thai market is particularly receptive to most Australian produce including cherries, table grapes, mandarins, navels, summer fruit, applesm pears, strawberries and blueberries. Potential opportunities for vegetables include carrots, salad mixes and other leafy greens.

Key factors that make these and other fresh produce exports from Australia attractive for Thai importers and consumers include:

  • Australia is seen is a 'clean and green' supplier. Buyers expect produce from Australia to be a high standard, have a longer shelf life and taste better when compared to imported produce from other countries
  • Greater awareness of food safety issues amongst Thai consumers. Australia is perceived as a quality supplier due to lower chemical usage in production
  • Australia’s relatively close proximity to Thailand allows for shorter shipment times which maintains the condition and freshness of produce
  • The Thailand Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) gives many Australian produce items a competitive advantage over produce imported from other countries (see Tariffs, regulations and customs below).

Austrade and Hort Market Insight Report

Opportunities also exist for exporters to supply Australian fresh fruit produce during unique cultural festivals, particularly those that feature fruits as gifts or offerings. Further insight into the specific opportunity in Thailand can be found in the following report

Competitive Environment

Produce from the United States has traditionally been exported to and heavily marketed in Thailand for many years, but as buyers gain a greater understanding of counter seasonality from northern and southern hemispheres, they are now making sourcing plans to enable a full year’s supply of fresh produce from around the world.

However, this also brings challenges. For produce that is able to be supplied all year round, factors such as quality, price competitiveness, supply consistency and the buyer/exporter relationship is becoming more important for Thai buyers when deciding where to source. In this, Australia also faces strong competition from southern hemisphere countries such as Peru, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.

China remains a large supplier of produce to Thailand due to pricing, however food safety is becoming an important factor in purchasing decisions and Chinese produce is being replaced with products from other country suppliers deemed to be 'cleaner and greener'.

It is important for Australian suppliers to provide support to retailers for promotional activities, in order to continually build awareness of Australian fresh produce and establish it as a top-of-mind option among consumers.

Tariff, regulations and customs

The Thailand Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)  gives Australian produce a competitive advantage as import tariffs have been eliminated, whereas produce from other countries without a trade agreement with Thailand is subject to import tariffs of 10 to 40 per cent.

Find out more information on import tariffs.

Thailand is currently reviewing its import conditions for all horticultural products, including imports from Australia. Commodities that are classified as regulated products are subject to Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) process and import conditions before being allowed entry into Thailand.

Import protocols are now in place for table grapes, citrus, apples, pears, kiwifruit, persimmons, avocadoes, cherries, strawberries, apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums, though trade has not commenced on all of these products.

Find out further information regarding conditions for existing import protocols .

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

Market entry strategies will vary according to products and segments being targeted. Exporters should use Australia’s unique advantages such as counter seasonal produce, diverse climate, soil variation, established image of a clean and safe environment, and TAFTA benefits where they exist, to fully market produce potential.

Strategies to improve your business dealings with buyers from Thailand include:

  • Where possible secure local representation through local importers who will take care of your produce and market it on your behalf. Major retailers in most cases also have an import division for purchasing fresh produce, and prefer to have direct contact with Australian exporters
  • Establish and maintain business relationships with buyers. Set aside sufficient budget for regular visits to the Thai market to study market trends and meet with key buyers to discuss market expansion plans, supply availability, seasonal advice and any other issues. Buyers appreciate being kept informed so that they can plan accordingly.
  • Provide packaging options and suggest new trends
  • Set a promotional budget for your produce in market. Thai retailers concur that the most effective promotional means is through fresh sampling. Importers/retailers are increasingly looking for this kind of support from their suppliers in order to generate awareness of product or increase sales.

Distribution Channels

Traditional importers/wholesalers are the main import contacts. Major retailers have begun setting up direct import divisions to source fresh produce worldwide, to supplement goods purchased from local importers.

Links and industry contacts

Government, business and trade

FTA Portal
Australian Embassy Bangkok 
Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce 
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources 
Thai Customs 
Thai Department of Agriculture 

Media

The Bangkok Post 
The Nation 

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.

Contact details

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