From the crunchy yellow flesh of the jackfruit, that weighs as much as 25 kilograms and can be eaten fresh or cooked as a meat substitute, to the natural coconut water enjoying growing popularity due to its health benefits and innovative packaging that preserve freshness while making it easy to drink, Thailand’s diversified exotic fruit exports are gaining ground among health-conscious consumers around the world, data shows.
The country’s total fruit exports increased 48% in value in 2021 to some 6.2 billion U.S. dollars, making Thailand the world’s 7th largest fruit exporter, according to Global Trade Atlas data.
Global consumption of fruits and fruit juices has risen in recent years due to push for a healthier diet, a trend that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, calling them “dietary essentials”.
Thailand’s fruit output, which peaks for most varieties between March and July, also comprises the Durian, the so-called “King of Fruits” and a leading fruit export, loved around Asia for its strong smell often compared to cheese and its sweet taste; the delicately fragrant white pulp of the mangosteen, or “Queen of Fruits”, which resembles a little present in it’s dark purple shell; the dozens varieties of Mangoes eaten ripe or unripe; the Longan with its grape-like white flesh and a hint of musk in the flavour; and the Tamarind, enjoyed dry as a snack for its sweet and sour flesh, rich in essential nutrients, and digestive qualities, or used as the magic main ingredient in the famous Pad Thai noodles.
“Our policy has been to inform Japanese consumers about the variety of fruits Thailand offers,” said Pimjai Matsumoto, Managing Director of P.K. Siam Co., Ltd., one of the leading Thai fruit importers in Japan. “We started years ago with one type of mangoes, and over the years we added more mangoes, and now other Thai fruits, such as our coconuts, durian, mangosteen, pomelo, and tamarind. Tamarind is doing very well this year and its now available in many department stores.”
While fresh fruits represent the largest share of Thailand’s fruit exports, with Asia as the main market, the country also exports worldwide canned fruits, frozen fruits, ice creams, dried fruits, and drinks, such as pineapple, mango, guava, and orange juice, as well as coconut water. Thailand was the eighth largest global exporter of fruit juice in 2021, with exports worth 630 million dollars, up 13% from the previous year.
The market in the United States and European countries has seen higher demand for organic fruit juices, and a rising popularity for other healthy features, such as low sugar and low calories, or the addition of healthy substances including vitamin and prebiotic.