Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences | JIRCAS

Fostering Food Culture with Innovation: OTOP/SME and Thai Kitchen to the World

JIRCAS International Symposium Proceedings
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Thailand is an agricultural country that is rich in food culture and agriculture-based product. Food and
agriculture industry are the major economic sectors in Thailand. Thailand earns over US$ 20 billion from
exporting food and is also one of the world’s leading rice exporters. In fact, Thai Government under Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has a policy to promote “Thai Kitchen to the World,” affirming Thailand
as a major food export country that can contribute to food security under changing world condition, in
which global warming and natural disaster may lead to food shortage. “Thai Kitchen to the World” project
was started in year 2002 and aims to promote Thai food products creating awareness of food security and
producing high-quality foods complying with international standards at competitive prices. Government’s
strategies are covering the whole process from finding materials to adding product value and assisting
distribution. The main strategies of “Thai Kitchen to the World” include, (1) expanding agriculture and
food business, (2) adding value to agricultural produce with high-technology production processes, (3)
supporting cooperation at regional and international levels, and (4) supporting Thai investments abroad,
especially in building a network of Thai restaurants and food markets overseas.
The strategies to lead Thailand as the “Kitchen of the World” are promoting the exports of raw materials,
processed foods (Ready-to-cook, Ready-to-eat, sauces or seasoning), and non-food products such as
decorations for Thai restaurants and skilled personnel for working overseas, as the first target of the
policy. The government plans to increase the number of Thai restaurants overseas, which could help to
boost the annual export of Thai food industry. This “Kitchen of the World” campaign strategy would not
merely accelerate Thailand’s plan to be one of the major food exporters, but also it would be a spearhead
on the export of OTOP (One Tambon; village; One Product policy) products, which are prepared from
very small scale food enterprises. At the same time, the most important mission of this “Kitchen to the
World” strategy is to ensure Thai food products to meet the safety and hygiene standards required by
international regulations. Throughout these strategies, Thailand aims to act as a real “kitchen” to serve for
the world food consumption. Therefore, the issues of food safety and authentic Thai food are very important
for Thai food industries to go to the world level.
Thai food is one of the world’s best known cuisines as seen from more than 10,000 Thai restaurants
located in many countries. However, it is found that the flavors of Thai food in many standalone restaurants
and hotels abroad are different from the authentic ones and do not meet the demands of foreign markets
which result in the oversupply of raw materials. To solve these problems and promote Thai food industry
for its sustainable growth, “Thai Delicious” is established according to the government’s policy with the
integration of Home Economics, Food Science and Technology, and Sensory Science. It will also provide
food innovative services and generate business models and networks. The goals of “Thai Delicious” are
to collect and develop Thai standard recipes by applying the science of Home Economics, Food Science
and Technology and Sensory Evaluation, develop equipment to measure and analyze flavors of Thai food
for a restaurant that would like to meet “Thai Delicious” standard, develop institutional food (or ready-tocook
product) based on the standard recipes to serve the demand of Thai food in foreign countries, and
provide food certification service and training for local and foreign chefs who would like to work in Thai
restaurants.
Generally, the food taste measurement often involves the sensory evaluation (taste, smell, color and
texture). This assessment is usually carried out in a conventional way by trained participants. The condition
of the product to be tested and minds of the examiners are important for them which can influence the
measurement, and the test results can turn out to be inaccurate. To reduce this inaccuracy, e-Delicious is
developed as an equipment that imitates human’s tongue and nose to measure the tastes of Thai food
which are sourness, sweetness, saltiness, spiciness, or other significant parameters. “e-Delicious” will support “Thai Delicious” certification service. If the tested recipes meet “Thai Delicious” standards, the
restaurants will be certified with a “Thai Delicious” logo.
OTOP is promoted as a national policy since year 2002. Now, its volume of sales has increased by more
than 80% and value more than US$ 3,000 million. The export value is predicted to increase more than
100% in the next few years. A main booster of export volume and sales is government’s policy that tries
to push SME and OTOP to the world market and AEC (ASEAN Economic Community). Besides that,
food science and technology as well as innovation is also reinforcing the sustainability of OTOP by
assisting product development, packaging design, shelf-life stability, processing technology and food
safety in parallel with Government’s policy.
OTOP products are originated from local food and agriculture products using traditional local processing
that could be improved to make the products into a level of high quality, safety and standard. The role of
research institutes and universities is to help local manufacturers to meet international food standards in
order to export to world markets by providing assistance in research and development. An example of a
success story of one OTOP product is banana products from “Banana Society,” which is a society and
community of farmers who grow banana. Traditional banana products include sun dried banana and
seasoning banana chips. However, there were problems of unstable quality, shelf-life stability and safety
of these traditional products. Food research institutes and universities came in to establish simple and
appropriate products and process development as well as market channels by using science, technology
and innovation processes. Now, the banana society products have markedly increased in volume of sales
and number of products as well as worldwide markets.
In addition to the policy of “Thai Kitchen to the World” and OTOP/SME, Thai Government also
launched a “Thailand Food Valley” (TFV) project under the action of Minister of Industry to promote
linkage between food producers in all levels (SME, OTOP and industry) with researchers to strengthen
food production stability including value adding and increased export quality of food products.
In conclusion, Thailand so far is fostering food culture with innovation by promoting the policy of
“Thai Kitchen to the World,” OTOP/SME and “Thailand Food Valley.” This Government’s policy is a
national policy and has been well supported by research institutes and universities to help reinforce the
sustainability of “Thai Kitchen to the World” and OTOP by science, technology and innovation. The
benefits from this fostering policy will lift up the level of Thai food standard for exporting to ASEAN
countries and the world market as well as promoting sustainable business and tourism activities.

Date of issued2013-11-20
CreatorWarunee Varanyanond
Subject

OTOP/SME

Thailand Food Valley

Kitchen to the World

Innovation

PublisherJapan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences
Dates2013-11-20
Issue2013
spage179
epage190
RightsJapan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences
Languageeng