Thai rice, particularly Hom Mali Rice, is famous and widely-recognised on the global market while other types of rice including Riceberry has become more popular among health-conscious consumers due to its nutritional value, fragrance and taste.
Riceberry is a cross between two renowned Thai rice strains: Jao Hom Nin (non-glutinous black rice) and the fragrant Khao Dawk Mali 105 (Thai Hom Mali). With high fibre, Riceberry is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene.
“To promote Thai Riceberry rice in Spain, DITP’s office in Madrid will join with El Corte Inglés, the biggest department store group in Europe, to host the Health Food Festival in May,” says Triyaporn Boonsiriya, Minister Counsellor (Commercial) at DITP’s office in Madrid. “At the opening ceremony on May 10, famous nutritionist Patricia Pérez, is invited to advise participants how to prepare healthy food by using Thai rice and products while Spanish chefs will demonstrate how to cook different menus.”
Moreover, at least 90 cafeterias in El Corte Inglés department stores across Spain will offer Riceberry-based menus for two weeks.
“Food products have a bright future in this market because Spaniards, particularly the younger generation, have more interest in Eastern culture. Thai food products including coloured rice, herbs and organic food are considered good for the health,” says Boonsiriya. “Spaniards who travel to Thailand like Thai food, some of them go to Thai restaurants in Spain and some buy ingredients and cook at home. There is a demand for ready-to-eat food and ready-to-cook food.”
“We expect the mentioned activities, as well as selling other Thai food products and ingredients in the supermarket, to help encourage Spaniards to buy products for cooking at home and create more interest in the consumption of Thai rice and other products in the long run.”
In addition to food products, Boonsiriya explains that there are other business opportunities in Spain for Thai businesses, although there are some challenges, including strict rules and regulations on food imports and the language barrier.
“Booming tourism leads to the construction of new hotels. Hence, they need furniture and decoration items. All-in-one air conditioners and heater units are also needed,” she says. There is a strong demand for halal products in Spain, as the country is a popular destination for North Africans and has a significant Muslim population, especially in the south of the country. “Halal products certified by Spain’s Instituto Halal can be distributed in Middle East countries. This is very good opportunity for Thai entrepreneurs looking for new markets.”
DITP data shows Thailand and Spain trade valued at US$1.66 billion in 2017, a 5.9% increase on the previous year. Thailand exported US$978.1 million of products to Spain with imports amounting to US$687.8 million. Key exports included air conditioners and parts, automobiles, auto-parts and accessories, rubber products, natural rubber and chemical products. Last year, Thailand exported US$19.4 million of rice to Spain, a 4.5% increase on the previous year.
Words by Somhatai Mosika