Thai food exports are to grow by 5-7% next year against this year's 5% growth, boosted by higher global consumption and recovery from an epidemic of early mortality syndrome in shrimp.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, yesterday said Thailand is expected to end the year with food shipments worth 971.69 billion baht, up 5% on 2012, outstripping the country's economic growth of 3%.
"Food-sector exports have managed better growth than other industries such as electronics and electrical appliances," said Mr Isara.
He said prospects for Thai food should brighten in 2014 as external factors ease and shrimp disease winds down.
Domestic food consumption is also marked for further growth, fuelled by the rising number of foreign tourists, while demand in markets like Asean and the Middle East shows no signs of a let-up.
Mr Isara noted, however, that foreign exchange needs monitoring as firms remain concerned about baht volatility.
He voiced his doubts that the US debt-ceiling crisis and the Federal Reserve's tapering would much affect Thai food exports, saying the US administration is expected to settle the deadlock soon.
"What we're concerned about, rather, is the rapid capital inflow and outflow that may bring about volatility in the Thai currency," he said.
He urged the private sector to work closely with the central bank and the Joint Public-Private Consultative Committee to monitor the baht's movements.
The Thai Chamber of Commerce forecasts full-year growth of 3%.
Secretary-general Kalin Sarasin said global consumers will increasingly opt for food products from companies that focus on environmental concerns, safety and traceability.
The consumption trend is towards finished food products, he said, especially in the European Union.