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Food retail industry in Thailand - statistics & facts

Food retail is one of the leading segments in the retail sector in Thailand. Packaged food and beverages were forecast the have the highest value growth among other fast-moving-consumer-goods in the country in 2022. In Thailand, traditional food retailing channels such as wet markets and local shops are still important. Wet markets are integral to Thai culture and consumers can buy both fresh food and food products at reasonable prices there. However, Thai consumers are currently leaning towards modern food retailing channels such as supermarkets and convenience stores due to the variety of products sold and the convenience afforded by such retail outlets. Since 2017, the number of supermarkets in Thailand has been constantly growing, reaching almost 500 outlets in 2020.

Leading food retail channels in Thailand

The food retail scene in Thailand is dominated by Thai-owned chains. One of the market leaders in the Thai food retail scene, Lotus-Talad, formerly known as Tesco Lotus, is owned by one of the biggest conglomerates in Thailand, Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group). In 2020, the Lotus-Talad chain had the highest number of supermarket outlets in Thailand, closely followed by Tops. Apart from local brands, international supermarket chains such as the Japanese brand FamilyMart and Lawson 108 also have significant presence in the Thai food retail sector. Some of the most popular food products bought through these food retails channel are packaged food and drinks, with dairy products having the highest sales value in 2021. As for chilled ready-to-eat food products, Ezy-Choice had the highest market value share, accounting for 60 percent in that same year.

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on food retailing

Even though food retailers were still operating in Thailand during the COVID-19 pandemic, they were only allowed limited opening hours. When Thai consumers visited food retailers during this period, bulk buying became more common than before. Although food retailers remained open, food delivery gained in popularity among Thai consumers during this time as they wanted to avoid going to restaurants or grocery stores. With this reason, food delivery apps were preferred over traditional food and beverage purchase among Thai consumers. A survey conducted on food services in Thailand revealed that the majority of Thai respondents stated having ordered from food delivery apps around three to six times per week. With the increasing popularity of food delivery and restrictions on food retailers in Thailand, several food retail channels certainly suffered. In 2020, sales growth of supermarkets in Thailand showed contraction of 12 percent. However, this was forecast to recover in the following years.

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