Sunshine on your plate
New Zealand produce is in high demand in the 'kitchen of the world'
As a New Zealander who's been living in Bangkok for the past 15 years, I've been delighted to see my country's food gain traction in Thailand. Food is at the centre of Thai culture, and New Zealanders are experts in producing it.
We're already seeing good opportunities to work together. While Thailand intends to be a "kitchen to the world", the Thai food and beverage sector is also looking to the "food bowl" of New Zealand to meet an increasing domestic demand for high-quality imported ingredients.
There is a particularly strong growth in imports of New Zealand meat across a variety of beef and lamb products. In the last five years, New Zealand meat exports to Thailand have grown an extraordinary 65 per cent, driven by a 165-per-cent increase in lamb and sheep meat products as well as a developing chilled beef market.
Speciality cuts of beef tenderloin and sirloin are popular with Thai consumers, who are discovering that New Zealand meat is perfect for both Asian and Western cuisine. The trade statistics reflect what we've been seeing in local supermarkets, restaurants and hotels - demand for New Zealand food and beverage products is growing rapidly here.
Succulent New Zealand seafood is also popular in Thailand. Greenshell Mussels - one of nature's "superfoods" - are now more widely available. Native to New Zealand, Greenshell Mussels have a high level of omega 3 and are an ideal match for Thai cuisine.
Another great match for Thai dishes is New Zealand King Salmon, which is prided for its full product traceability. King Salmon is valued as a premium eating salmon and only small tonnages of cultured salmon are available on the world market. Both Greenshell Mussels and King Salmon are sustainably harvested in the pristine waters of the South Island, without added hormones.
In addition, Thailand's first New Zealand-themed seafood restaurant, Snapper, has proved a success with locals, who love the fresh New Zealand fish and wine. The Sukhumvit road restaurant opened to great reviews and features a wide variety of directly imported New Zealand seafood.
New Zealand is also working continuously on new food products - recent innovations developed include kiwifruit with red flesh, apples that don't brown when cut and milk that can help you sleep - all created without the use of genetic modification.
It is also exciting to watch as ties between New Zealand and Thailand continue to grow across business, culture and government. The relationship is flourishing with the Australia-New Zealand- ASEAN Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) opening up new opportunities for both countries.
With this in mind, I'm excited to see what the supermarket shelves will look like five years from now - I hope to see even more variety - and naturally when I go home to New Zealand I'll be looking out for delicious Thai products too.
Karen Campbell is New Zealand's Trade Commissioner to Thailand, and is based in Bangkok. For more information about New Zealand food and beverage products in Thailand, or to download New Zealand/Thai recipes visit: www.NewZealand.com/business.