Chulalongkorn University ’s Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy lecturers said Halal food from Thailand would have a bright future in the United Arab Emirates, thanks to its desirable tastes and herbal ingredients. However, manufacturers need to learn more about customers’ preference and marketing strategy for the region, in order to successfully penetrate the market.
Associate Professor Kuntalee Ruenrom (Ph.D.) and Assistant Professor M.L. Sawika Unhananda from Marketing Department presented their research on the trend of needs for Thai Halal food in the UAE market. Their study received an award for Good Research in the academic and researcher level from Chulalongkorn Universityin 2005.
Associate Professor Kuntalee Ruenrom (Ph.D.) said the “Thai Cuisine to the World” campaign was among the government’s key strategic plans to push food products from Thailandinto the world market. Therefore, the export of Halal food, or Islamic koshered food, to 14 Muslim countries in the Middle East with 200 million Islamic population, seems to see a bright future.
The United Arab Emirates is Thailand’s major trade partner in the region, as well as a distribution center of Thai products to other countries in the neighborhood. As a result, Thai food manufacturers, especially canned food producers, would have a high potential to succeed from exporting their products to the country.
Associate Professor Kuntalee Ruenrom (Ph.D.) added that the study aimed at finding local consumers’ need for Thai Halal food, as well as their behavior and attitude towards Thai food. Currently, Thailandimports oil from the UAE, while the major export product is clothes.
The researchers gathered information from 300 people who participated in the Gulf Food Exhibition in Dubai, and conducted in-depth interviews from Thai food exporters, manufacturers, distributors, and governmental officials responsible for promoting Thai products in the UAE.
The survey indicated that Thai food is popular among local consumers. More than 80 percent of respondents said they had Thai food and like it because of the taste, variety, and difference from other type of food. More importantly, Thai food contains herbal ingredients and has reasonable prices. As a result, researchers concluded that the future of Halal food export to the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries is bright. However, involved parties have to learn the consumers’ behavior and preference, as well as related factors such as packaging, in order to attract customers.
Moreover, the research would become a primary study for behavior of Middle Eastern customers toward Thai product, and would give a better understanding of the market. The study was well received by the Global Business & Economic Research Conference, held at Istanbul, Turkey, and was published in the Business Preview, Cambridge. In addition, the Thailand Research Fund also encouraged for further distribution of the research to Thai food exporters.