ThaiFex 2024 Roundup

A Showcase of Thai Innovation and Market Potential

GourmetPro expert Rob Hall, founder and CEO of Brand4Humans, attended ThaiFex at the end of May 2024 and shared some of his impressions of the event with us. 

This year at ThaiFex, there was a strong Thai focus in terms of the overall event theme. This is a departure from previous years, with the Thai government and Thai brands using the event to highlight a renewed export focus and to remind the international markets that they are a serious force to be reckoned with. It was the most impressive local ThaiFex performance – from a Thai perspective – that I've seen in many years.

Display Stand Extravaganza

Thailand went all out to showcase themselves and their F&B products/brands in a major way this year. Many Thai stands were large, well-presented, and offered an opportunity for buyers to interact with the product and sales team. It was seriously impressive and the best effort I've seen from the home country team for some time across APAC trade shows. 

This display does create a wider question on investment in these trade shows from participants. When even moderately sized brands are going all in – and reaping the foot traffic, media, and buyer attention from these stands – what does this say about the low-profile approach? Buyers and distributors read the cues and assume a larger presence means a better, more successful brand that wants to invest in export success. Other countries and brands should take note.

Local Distributors Claim Their Space

Distributors are largely at ThaiFex to connect with new brands and opportunities. But it's becoming increasingly popular for larger local distributors to have large display stands of their own to showcase their partner brands and capability. This also offers a space for trade and networking discussions. This strategy makes sense and we're likely to see more innovative distributors take a more prominent role at future events.

Asian Brands Split Domestic & Export SKUs

An interesting aspect of ThaiFex this year was that some brands and markets (Thailand in particular) were getting much better at separating their dometic line of products from their overseas range. This distinction was especially visible from a product and packaging perspective.  

Thai brands like Asiatique were a good example of this at the show. 

I felt that some F&B markets – Taiwan, Vietnam, and China, for example – need to get better at distinguishing their export product and packaging from domestic offerings, if they want to appeal to a bigger slice of local buyers in export markets.

Like what you’re reading?

Convenience + Quality 

The need for convenience has been the primary driver for prepared food and drink, but these categories have not always been up to mark in terms of quality. But this year at ThaiFex, it was very encouraging to see brands up their game in the ready-to-eat/cook/drink space. Driving innovation here is often new or healthier flavors and ingredients that showcase a brand’s high quality or premium credentials. This indicates that convenience and good quality can go hand-in-hand, especially for discerning consumers of today. 

I saw this with every category but I especially noticed that ready-to-eat high quality meals and ready-to-drink premixes of all varieties (Oat + Almond milks) were on display.

Flavored sparkling water with real fruit juice

Fruit and vegetable snacks

Celebrity & Superstar Brands

What I've seen more of across Asia – and certainly here in Thailand – is local celebrities and superstars not just promoting F&B brands but launching their own brands. This is true for celebrity chefs, but now includes actors, singers, and other media/internet personalities. A couple of notable examples at the show include 3 Lady Cooks and legendary street food chef Jay Fai and her sauces/noodle products being launched.

Product + Flavor Overdose 


There was a wide range of sauces and condiments at the show, with a strong Asian influence across export markets. I think I counted over 10 different Sriracha sauce brands alone. It's a testament to its popularity, but as GourmetPro expert Kevin Ng noted, it's a product that didn't have a strong IP protection initially. At this point, it's become hard for retail buyers and consumers to understand what is the original or the best. 

Just as an aside, check out this fascinating video on the origin of Sriracha. 

Coconut Products

There were also an enormous number of coconut-related products - from coconut waters to beverage mixes to milks and ice creams, snacks and different types of foods and ingredient bases. Most of these coconut-based categories are becoming enormously competitive across different markets.

Some flavor options that were ubiquitous: 

  • Wasabi-flavored everything – snacks, sauces, butters – and not just from Japan

  • A large number of durian-flavored snacks, drinks as well, usually without the strong smell but NOT always!

Soy sauce as a flavor across multiple categories

Healthy & Sustainable Slow-down

Healthier & more sustainable brands, especially in the plant-based sector, have had a difficult last 12-18 months with the category slowdown and growth challenges. This definitely has impacted recent trade shows and ThaiFex was no exception. There were far fewer new brands in the category and existing players were keeping a low profile.

  • A few exceptions were Korea plant-based food brand Veggie Garden, showcasing their large plant-based range that includes meats, meal kits, rice balls, sauces, cheeses, and others. It feels like the industry is trying to broaden and localize its appeal while generally keeping a lower profile as they refine their product and brand appeal. A prudent move, given the state of the industry.

  • A good developing sustainable product story is around Thai rice and seafood. 

    • Increasingly, Thai brands are starting to develop fully sustainably grown rice options. Even though it’s still early days, Thai rice producers are increasingly getting requests for more sustainable rice options.

    • Sustainable seafood is also making some progress. Companies like Thai/Japanese venture Khaopong Farm had a big display promoting sustainably farmed fish - an encouraging sight for the local and international market

Continuing growth areas within the wellness space include low or reduced sugar as well as functional foods and beverages. 

  • Thai brand Plantae – a local pant-based functional supplement & beverage brand that launched last year – had a big stand and presence at ThaiFex this year and was getting a lot of positive attention. 

The overall corporate sustainability agenda is still a driving force, both in terms of operational solutions and some product and packaging innovations, with plenty of discussions around these issues. Large Thai companies like CP had a PR/media extravaganza around their “Kitchen of the World with Sustainovation” campaign, which addresses food security and sustainable consumption.

Most innovative products on display

That’s all folks

Thanks for reading today’s newsletter.

See you next week!

About Us: GourmetPro is a global network of elite food and beverage industry talents. We provide fractional hiring solutions, allowing international managing directors to scale and transform their local resources and teams with high flexibility and expertise in more than 30 countries. Explore our services.

💖 And if you think someone you know might be interested in this edition of Market Shake, feel free to simply forward this email or click the button below. 💖

👉 P.S.: GourmetPro is also on LinkedIn and X!