Fruit and vegetables to Thailand
Trends and opportunities
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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
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
Find out further information regarding
conditions for existing import protocols
Marketing your products and services
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
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
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.
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
Australian Embassy Bangkok
Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Thai Department of Agriculture
The Bangkok Post
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