Saudi Arabia lifts 18-year ban on Thai chicken

CP Foods celebrates “a new era for Thai and Saudi trade” at a ceremony held in March. Photo: CP Foods
CP Foods celebrates “a new era for Thai and Saudi trade” at a ceremony held in March. Photo: CP Foods

Just 2 weeks after Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on Thai chicken and egg imports, which has been in force since 2004, Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) exported its first shipment of chicken products to the kingdom.

Five of CP Foods’ chicken plants have been given permission by Saudi Food & Drug Authority to export chilled, frozen and processed chicken. During a launch ceremony held by CP Foods on 28 March at its Minburi chicken processing plant, Thailand’s commerce minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, said that the country’s chicken industry has made a “monumental step” in the Middle East.

“One of the most important markets in the Middle East”

“Congratulations to CP Foods for being the first company to export chicken products to Saudi Arabia,” said Laksanawisit. “It is a new era for Thai and Saudi trade. Thailand aims to export 10,000 tonnes of chicken to Saudi Arabia this year, which will help increase the value of Thai broiler exports abroad.”

He added that Saudi Arabia will be one of the most important and largest markets in the Middle East, especially for Halal products.

CP Foods’ CEO, Prasit Boondoungprasert, noted that the company would export 600 tonnes of chicken products, worth 47 million baht (US$1.4 million), to Saudi Arabia in March, and 6,000 tonnes of chicken meat products with a total export value of 473 million baht (US$14 million) this year. “CP Foods is eyeing chicken export of 60,000 tonnes in the next 5 years,” the CEO added.

The highest proportion of food imports

With a population of 36.5 million people, Saudi Arabia is the country with the highest proportion of food imports among the Gulf Corporation Council and will be the largest importer of chicken from Thailand in the Middle East. The Thai broiler industry expects to gain 10-15% of total market share in the country.

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist