Calm seas for tuna shippers | Bangkok Post: business – Bangkok Post
Canned tuna products of Thai Union Group, the world’s biggest tuna exporter. Thailand’s canned tuna exports are set to grow as demand surges. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUN
Thai canned tuna export value expanded 4% to 77 billion baht in 2016 because of strong demand in major markets such as the Middle East, says Chanintr Chalisarapong, president of the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA).
Growth this year is also expected to reach 4% because of strong demand from emerging markets, he said.
In terms of quantity, Thailand, which is the world’s leading exporter of canned tuna, shipped 630,000 tonnes last year to major buyers in South Africa and Latin America, where demand grew substantially.
Of total exports last year, some 30% was to the Middle East, 15% to the US, 8% to Europe and the rest to Japan, Canada and Australia.
“Last year exports to Europe dropped by 15% because of complications from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) taking place in Thailand. However, exports to the US rose 15%, which helped offset the fall in Europe,” said Mr Chanintr.
Thai canned tuna producers should switch to making higher value products to increase their profit margin, he said.
The TTIA played down concerns about possible new economic policies from US President Donald Trump, saying they would not affect Thai tuna exports to the US or demand.
“The US is one of our major tuna export markets that keeps growing, as Americans continue to consume more canned food and Thai products are quite famous there. That’s why we expect to export more,” said Mr Chanintr.
However, he said exporters are concerned about a stronger baht weighing on tuna exports this year.
An exchange rate of around 36 baht per US dollar would be an appropriate level and would support Thai exports, said Mr Chanintr.
The government should step in to stabilise the baht if it rises higher than 36, he said.