Thailand sees immense opportunities in Indian food industry

Nitirooge Phoneprasert,  Consul-General of Thailand in Chennai

Nitirooge Phoneprasert, Consul-General of Thailand in Chennai


The Royal Thai Consulate-General, Chennai is trying to promote their cultural power through 5F strategy – food, films, fashion, fighting and festivals

Royal Thai Consulate-General, Chennai identifies huge opportunities for business expansion in India in the field of processed food production and food processing technology, along with other sectors like medical tourism. With its guidance and support, Thai companies have been growing significantly in South India. The embassy covers five Southern States – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and a Union Territory – Pondicherry.

In an exclusive interview with Bizz Buzz, Nitirooge Phoneprasert, Consul-General of Thailand in Chennai, said that more Thai companies are keen on collaborating with Indian companies to invest in this region, especially in AP and Telangana.

As the Consul-General of Thailand in Chennai, India, what are the key initiatives and programmes that you have overseen to strengthen the bilateral relations between Thailand and the Southern States, particularly Telangana and AP?

I’ve assumed the Consul-General of Thailand in Chennai office in June, 2019. Before we could start doing something, more than two years were wasted due to Covid-19. But anyways, last year, I think it was quite significant for us, because we celebrated the 75th year of diplomatic relations between Thailand and India.

During the last four years, we embarked on a lot of projects and programmes to celebrate or to commemorate this milestone. For instance, we signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand and the Department of Industry and Commerce, Telangana in April last year.

This is the very first of its kind that the Government of Thailand signed an MoU with a State and Telangana has been the first State in India. The focused areas of this MoU are agro-based food processing, food-based industries, food-grade tapioca and modified starch. The MoU also aims to enhance cooperation in the area of startups and small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Also, we have invited a group of delegates from World Trade Center (WTC) Shamshabad to Bangkok, Thailand for the THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2023, which is Asia’s largest exhibition on food products and beverages. Again next year, another delegation from WTC Shamshabad will be invited to THAIFEX – Anuga Asia on May 28 – June 1, 2024.

Last year, we had a delegation from Andhra Pradesh as well. The Thai Chamber of Commerce signed an MoU with both the Federation of Telangana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FTCCI) and FAPCCI (The Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in September, 2022.

Could you let us know about the recent trade mission organised by the Royal Thai Consulate Chennai to Thailand?

The recent trade mission was held in May 2023. We had delegations of two States joining this time – one is from the WTC Shamshabad, Telangana and the other from the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI). The main aim of this delegation was to attend the food exhibition THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2023.

During this visit, we also have an Industrial visit to the Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc (CPF) Research & Development Center. CPF is the largest agro-industrial & food conglomerate headquartered in Thailand. It has huge investments and business presence in India as well. Since 2005, it has been doing aquaculture in AP and some parts of Tamil Nadu.

The delegation also visited the Food Innopolis in the Thailand Science Park, which is a global food innovation hub focusing on research, development and innovation for the food industry. This opened the doors to various potential areas of collaboration. As I mentioned earlier, some MoUs were signed during this visit as well.

These MoUs were used as a framework and a basis for the economic cooperation to help facilitate trade and investment for both parties by way of organising trade & market research, symposia and other methods of trade promotion including the B2B (business-to-business) meetings, seminars, conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs.

Which sectors throw opportunities for trade between India and Thailand?

I think there’s an immense opportunity in the food processing sector for both the countries to collaborate. Thailand is known as the ‘kitchen of the world’ and it has a vibrant food industry contributing to 23 per cent of the country’s GDP. We are leveraging food processing technology to be the forerunner in this sector.

The processed food industry comprises about half of Thailand’s exports. The potential of food processing in India and the interest of the Indian government in promoting investment and modern food processing infrastructure in the country make this sector an important area for collaboration.

How do you see the potential for further collaboration and growth in the food processing sector between Thailand and the southern States of India?

Already, there have been ongoing collaborations with local farmers and fish feed producers. CPF has been investing in India, particularly in AP for a very long time. Their factory is producing shrimp feed and they are giving that to the local people for raising their shrimp farms from the shrimp feed mill.

So, this has been going on for a while and I think it helps a lot of these farmers to raise their shrimp and then making the production ready for exports. Besides CPF, there are other companies also who would like to come and invest in this country for making their business presence here and also doing some collaboration in the food processing sector.

Other than the food processing sector, are there any more sectors or areas that hold significant potential for trade and investment between both countries?

One area of significance is the renewable energy sector. We have a Thai company, Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PDT) that came to invest in India buying shares in the company called Aveda Energy, a green energy developer headquartered in Mumbai, which works on ground-based solar power projects for clean energy at scale.

Another promising area is the auto parts industry. We have some companies like Thai Summit Autoparts setting up their establishments in Tamil Nadu, which has been known as the “Detroit of India” due to the presence of major automobile manufacturing units and allied industries. Thailand has been tapping into this market.

How do you see the potential in the tourism and medical tourism sectors?

I think this is one area that we have to work on because this country is also known for its medical hub here. In India, many States such as Tamil Nadu are trying to promote medical tourism. Thai people do not know yet about the medical expertise of India. I have been here for years and then I know that the country has a vast potential for medical tourism.

It is only a matter of making it known to the Thai people. We can work together to promote India as the medical hub of Asia.

What measures have been taken to promote cultural exchanges between Thailand and the southern States of India? Are there any ongoing programmes or events that aim to foster cultural understanding and cooperation?

We are trying to promote our cultural power through the five Fs – food, film, fashion, fighting and festival. We use this strategy to promote our culture in different ways. Recently, we have organised Thai food festival – Absolute Thai at Sheraton Mahabalipuram Hotel in Tamil Nadu. Last year, we also had Thai food festival – Flavours of Thai at Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel.

The second thing we try to promote is our films. I think we are trying to make the Thai films known to the Indian audience. We have been joining some film festivals like the Chennai International Film Festival and the Innovative International Film Festival Bengaluru. Every year, we are sending our movies to show in these film festivals.

Another one we focus on is fighting or martial arts – Muay Thai (Thai boxing). We have been cooperating with United Muay Thai Association India (UMAI) based out of Jaipur, Rajasthan. It has conducted the National Muay Thai Competition during May 26-30, 2023 at EVP Film City Chennai, wherein over 883 athletes from 28 States participated.

Also, we have been organising Thai festivals in South Indian cities such as Thai Fiesta in Bengaluru and Thailand Week in Chennai. Thai Trade Expo was held at Sarath City Capital Mall in Hyderabad on September 2-4, 2022 to create a strong trading connection between Telangana and Thailand. Again, we are planning an event in this city during August 25-27, 2023.

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