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Growth for Thai livestock firms

Thailand's food exports in the first half of this year grew a robust 15.9% year-on-year to 411.63 billion baht (13,1 billion USD). Estimates for the entire year are 830.16 billion (26, billion USD), which would be a 10% increase from 2009 with substantial new investments in the livestock industry.

The Board of Investment (BOI) has reported that 17 livestock and aquatic breeding and processing projects received investment promotion during the first seven months this year for projects, ranging from farms to processing units, with a combined investment value of more than 4.2 billion baht.

Prominent projects include a 1.03- billion-baht ready-to-eat meal venture from Songkla Canning Plc, and poultry and animal feed production expansion programmes by two major chicken producers and exporters, Betagro Group and GFPT Plc.

Betagro subsidiary, Betagro Foods Products International, received incentives for its broiler chicken farming site in Nakhon Ratchasima. The 528-million-baht project aims to farm 17.36 million chicks a year to feed its production plants in the area.

Krungthai Farm Co received investment perks for three projects in chicken farming and animal feed with a combined investment capital of 845 million baht.

Sukhum Panyakorn, an investment analyst for GFPT, said the Krungthai projects, to be completed by 2012, would add 150,000 chicks a day to the GFPT production lines. This will increase its capacity to 250,000 chickens per day in support of its 1.56-billion-baht joint venture with Japan's leading food company, Nichirei Food Inc. This is meant to make frozen and processed chicken for export which will become fully operational in December with the capacity to produce 30,000 tonnes of cooked products for export to Japan.

Mr Sukhum said the group was also increasing animal feed capacity by establishing a new feed plant in Chon Buri with the capacity to produce up to 500,000 tonnes, increasing its animal feed production to one million tonnes a year.
The expansion, he says, is intended to cash in on the increased import quota the European Union allocated to Thailand this year of 160,000 tonnes, which has.helped increase Thailand's chicken exports to the EU to 93,000 tonnes in the first half this year, a 7.5% rise year-on-year.

Strong demand from Japan and Asian countries drove chicken meat exports in the first half to increase by 8.66% year-on-year to 200,560 tonnes and experts expect exports will reach 400,000 tonnes this year worth 53.3 billion baht, up from 397,069 tonnes worth 52.7 billion baht in 2009.

Kukrit Arepagorn, manager of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association, said Thailand ranks at the top for exports of cooked and semi-cooked products thanks to high production skills in cutting and the ability to produce various products to meet market demand. He said that of the 397,069 tonnes of chicken meat exported last year, 378,809 tonnes were cooked and semi-cooked items.

But for raw meat exports, Thailand lags Brazil and the US, which ship more than 2 million tonnes of mostly raw chicken meat a year. Thailand's large-scale production facilities and product quality, he says, have raised the profile of the Thai chicken industry to become a significant global food source and attract foreign investor

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