Export of Thai plant-based protein gaining in strength


Thailand’s plant-based protein exports surged 64 per cent in 2021, riding a boom in healthy lifestyle trends. Auramon Subthaweetham, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, revealed that plant-based products that are processed to have the same characteristics as meat are gaining in popularity amid the upward consumer healthcare trend.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecasts that by 2022 the vegetable protein market will be worth more than $10 billion. The main exporting countries are the US, China and the European Union.

She said Thailand is the world's 25th largest vegetable protein exporter and third in Asean after Singapore and Malaysia.

During January to November 2021, Thailand exported plant protein products worth $2.57 million. Exports to many countries increased from the same period last year, such as Asean, Thailand's No. 1 export market (43 per cent), including Myanmar (82%), Singapore (195%) and Laos (969%), besides China (27%) and Australia (502%).

In addition, Thailand also exported vegetable protein products to the dual free-trade agreement (FTA) market worth $1.65 million. It accounted for 64 per cent of total vegetable protein exports.

Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the FTAs that Thailand has with 18 trading partners to expand their exports and increase their competitive advantages, Auramon said. Currently, 16 FTA partners, namely ASEAN countries, China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, India, Chile and Peru, are no longer levying tariffs on Thai plant protein products.

From February 1, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will also make it binding on South Korea to gradually reduce import duties on tofu products from Thailand to zero by 2036, she added.