President of the association Visit Limlurcha, who is also vice chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said that if the acute respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic can be kept under control in Q1, China's demand for imported food from Thailand is expected to double in Q2.

Thai rice on sale at a supermarket in Bangkok

The value of Thailand's food exports averages 1 trillion THB (32 billion USD) annually, while locally produced food earns 2 trillion THB in the domestic market. The domestic market could expand further because the Thai population is 70 million and the country has roughly 40 million foreign tourist arrivals every year.

Thailand is one of the world's leading food exporters, with rice making up the largest share at about 17.5 percent, followed by chicken, sugar, processed tuna, tapioca flour and shrimp.

Its biggest food export market is Japan, followed by China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Despite the surge in food demand from China, Visit said the association still maintains a food export target of 5-percent growth this year to 34.9 billion USD.

He noted widespread drought remains a key threat, adding that the baht's continued strength is also a key concern for exporters, as every one-baht gain against the USD erodes food export value by about 35 billion THB.

In 2019, China was Thailand's biggest food importer, replacing Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam collectively. Thai food exports to China amounted to 151 billion THB, a rise of 34 percent from the previous year, making up 14.7 percent of total food exports.

Source: VNA