published : 2 Nov 2022 at 04:00
newspaper section: Business
writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
The value of imported fresh and processed Japanese food to Thailand is expected to grow by 20% this year, as the Japanese restaurant business in Thailand starts to recover following an easing in the Covid-19 situation.
Jun Kuroda, president and chief representative for Asean at the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro), said the import value of Japanese agricultural and food products to Thailand in the first eight months of this year had already grown by 17% over the same period last year to ¥34.6 billion or 8.19 billion baht.
“After two years of business hardship from the [Covid-19] pandemic, the Japanese food business is now getting stronger,” said Mr Kuroda. “And despite the heavy impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Japanese restaurants in Thailand still continues to grow year by year.”
Based on Jetro’s latest survey, though the country was under lockdown in 2020 and faced other restrictions, the number of Japanese restaurants in Thailand increased to 4,370 in 2021 from 3,637 and 4,094 in 2019 and 2020, respectively. This compares with just 745 restaurants in 2007, reflecting the popularity of Japanese restaurants in Thailand.
There are now Japanese restaurants available across the country while the expansion trend into provincial areas continues to rise. Last year was the first time that the number of Japanese restaurants in upcountry areas — 2,297 — was higher than the number in Bangkok (2,073).
“We expect that the value of Japanese agricultural and food imports to Thailand in 2022 to grow by 20% over last year,” Mr Kuroda said, adding that the latest market survey by Jetro in 2022 revealed that the number of Japanese restaurants is still increasing from the year before.
The majority of imported foods from Japan are processed foods and livestock, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat and cereals, as well as fishery products.
Last year, overall imports of Japanese food tallied ¥441 billion, up from ¥403 billion in 2020 and ¥395 billion in 2019.
To promote Japanese food culture among the Thai people, Jetro yesterday joined hands with 32 brands of 236 Japanese restaurants both in Bangkok and upcountry areas to launch the campaign “Made in JAPAN” from now until Feb 28, 2023, to promote Japanese food particularly the country’s pork. Thailand has only been allowed to import Japanese pork since 2019.
With the campaign, each Japanese restaurant which participates in the “Made in JAPAN” campaign will provide new dishes featuring Japanese pork and new fish products, such as Sanma fish.
Japanese restaurants that have joined the campaign include Maisen, Sushiro, Teppen Bangkok, Oshinei, Ootoya, Toro Sushi, Nabezo Premium, Maguro, Kenji’s Lab, Fugu intown and Chubbies.
The agency expects that the campaign will result in Japanese products reaching over 10 million Thai consumers.
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