Thai Fishery Products’ potential in Saudi Arabia’s market

Article Administrator 2022-08-23

Thai Fishery Products’ potential in Saudi Arabia’s market

 According to halal market research, the global halal food and beverage market was valued at 1,533,280 million USD (48 trillion baht) in 2020 and is expected to grow to 2,285,190 million USD (approximately 74 trillion baht) in 2026 with a 20% yearly growth rate, and value addition of 560 billion USD (16.8 trillion baht) per year. This will boost exports and provide new opportunities for Thai farmers and entrepreneurs. Thailand ranks 13 in the world for its potential to produce and export food. According to the Thailand Halal Blueprint, the Thai Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has developed a plan to enter the 2 billion-people Muslim market as well as to invest in the agro-industry and halal food from upstream to downstream in both Thailand and other countries. Despite having a population of only 35 million people, Saudi Arabia is an important Islamic religious ceremony center and economic hub for the Middle East and North Africa, making it a considerable market for halal food products. While Thailand is the world's 11th largest halal food exporter, with a 2.44% market share, fishery products and processed seafood are among the top halal foods exported by Thailand. As a result, the restoration of the Thai-Saudi government relationship after 32 years will increase collaboration and boost development, especially in economics, technology, and innovation. International importers have recognized Thailand as a high-quality halal food producer. In Thailand, there are around 1.4 hundred thousand Halal food entrepreneurs, with 95% or 1.33 hundred thousand of them being non-Muslim. This reflects the availability of Halal food markets for all prospective food entrepreneurs.

Halal food is defined as " food that is permissible according to Islamic law". Halal food is crucial for all Muslims and is typically divided into two groups: 1) Natural Halal: agricultural products or non-processed food and 2) Halal by Certification: agricultural products or processed food (including slaughter through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe) that are at risk of being contaminated by non-halal ingredients or processed in ways that violate Islamic law, fishery products, and processed seafood are included in these two groups. Halal food from Thailand exports to the potential halal market in the Middle East and Northern Africa includes canned and processed seafood which accounted for 43.6% of overall halal food exported in 2019.

The Thai Delegation, led by Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, with the representatives from the government and private sector, paid an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 15-19 May 2022, to mobilize and promote bilateral cooperation between Thailand and Saudi Arabia. This visit also demonstrated both sides' intention to strengthen their cooperation from the public to the private sectors. In addition, the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Board of Trade of Thailand and the Federation of Saudi Chambers was arranged. The cooperation identified in the MoU encompasses the following areas:
1. Establishing Thai-Saudi Business Forum between both sides’ entrepreneurs,
2. Encourage participation in the exposition and trade fairs conducted by each other in order to promote trade and collaboration. It also raises awareness of the products of both countries. The Chamber of Commerce of Thailand has invited the private sector of Saudi Arabia to participate in the ThaiFex, which was held from 24-28 May 2022 in Bangkok,
3. Sharing related regulations and other information to encourage investment consideration in order to enhance the future growth of both sides' private investment,
4. Providing investment facilitation to help Thailand and Saudi Arabia in becoming the top investment targets for both countries’ entrepreneurs,
5. Accelerating the development of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and Saudi Arabia in order to encourage long-term trade between the two countries and to begin discussions on the FTA agreement as soon as possible.

The Thai side provided information on agricultural and fishery products that are produced with quality and in accordance with halal standards, with a variety based on global demand. Thai producers of agricultural and fishery products have the potential and readiness to expand their export market to Saudi Arabia. The two sides agreed to expand agricultural cooperation on crops, fisheries, livestock, and irrigation, as well as the development of food and halal standards, joint investments in agro-industry and halal industrial zone within the framework of the Halal Economic Corridor, including investments in new agricultural technology innovations through the establishment of a working mechanism between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia.

This shows the rehabilitation of the Thai-Saudi relationship has improved successively according to the government's policy of promoting the export of halal food under the Thailand Halal Blueprint. Entrepreneurs, producers, and exporters of fishery products have great potential, which translates into an opportunity for Thailand to increase its exports of halal fish and fishery products to Saudi Arabia in the near future. 

Mrs. Chuanpid Chantarawarathit
Expert in Fisheries International Affairs