VIC, Australia – Thai food traders say the international food price war has hit Thailand hard and they’re worried about their future.
The trade group has warned Thai food makers of a “huge” global food glut as the global price of wheat has risen from around $50 to $130 a bushel.
Thailand is the biggest exporter of wheat in the world and has been the focus of a food war in recent months as countries around the world tighten food supply restrictions.
Thai food traders have been forced to turn to overseas suppliers in an attempt to keep up with the global food crisis.
Food industry experts say Thailand has been hit by a global food shortage, a severe drop in demand for wheat and a shortage of domestic wheat, while prices of other commodities have also fallen.
The food industry has been working to increase exports of Thai rice and beef and other grains, as well as wheat, but experts say exports have fallen.
“We have to find another source of wheat and the supply of wheat for Thailand has not been improving for some time,” Thaksin Sarinpongdee, director general of the Thailand Wheat Board, told Reuters news agency.
Thaksin says Thailand imports about 30 per cent of its wheat supply from outside the country, while imports from China have fallen by 60 per cent since January.
“So, the wheat supply situation is not good for Thai agriculture, the price is not low, the demand is not high,” he said.
“The price is also not good because it is a very difficult commodity for Thailand to grow wheat.”
The Thai Wheat Board estimates exports of wheat to China have dropped by 30 per in the last two months, from $1.7 billion to $1 billion, and imports have fallen from $9.8 billion to just over $3 billion.
“They are not supplying much and we are getting very little from them,” said Sarinpaong.
“In the last three months, we have exported some 200 tonnes of wheat.”
If we keep exporting the same amount, then in three to four years we will be importing more wheat than we export now.
“A Chinese company, Cui-Feng Foods, has also been selling wheat at a discount to Thai farmers and has also closed up shop.
The Thai Food Trade Association says there are only around 30,000 tonnes of the country’s annual wheat production.”
Our wheat production is very small and we cannot export as much as we used to,” said Chitpong Thaksai, president of the trade association.”
There is a problem with the international market.
If the price stays high, the farmers can not produce their crops.
“The trade association has said the international wheat glut has made exports of rice and other grain difficult, while the global glut has been a boon for Thai producers.”
What is worrying for the Thai food industry is the global wheat price war that has hit us,” Sarin Pohapongdees said.
When wheat is imported, it costs more than when it is grown and harvested. “
If the price of grains goes up, then we will have to import more wheat and this will be more expensive.”
When wheat is imported, it costs more than when it is grown and harvested.
And we cannot continue to buy this cheap wheat,” he added.
Thakunan Chitmoo, a rice farmer in the southern Thai province of Pattani, said he was struggling to sell his wheat.
He said he would not have been able to sell it if prices were higher.”
I don’t know if I can get any more wheat.
I have already sold about 50 tonnes of rice to farmers and they have not sold anything since the war,” he told the Associated Press news agency, adding that he sold some of his crops to Chinese companies.