Thailand promotes agricultural products, aiming at biorefinery industry hub for market of US$1.7 trillion market

Mr. Thongchai Chawalitpichaet, Director General of The Office of Industrial Economics (OIE)

Mr. Thongchai Chawalitpichaet, Director General of The Office of Industrial Economics (OIE), has lately announced that the OIE has carried out a project to explore guidelines for the development of biorefinery industries (Biorefinery) to upgrade the Thai agricultural industry. This is in line with the 3 dimensions of the concept of holistic economic development, namely Bioeconomy, Circular Economy, and Green Economy or BCG Model in short, supported by the Thai government with a major aim to drive Thailand towards stability, prosperity and sustainability.

In terms of the biorefinery industries, the main focus concentrates on restructuring and production models of the industrial sector that uses agricultural products as raw materials for production, especially plants important to the agricultural sector and the livelihood of Thai farmers, such as sugarcane, cassava and oil palm. In doing so, all connections of the manufacturing processes necessary to maximize long-term economic outputs need to be created, from initial, intermediate and final industrial processes under the concept of biorefinery system together with the efficient use of resources and energy. All of these are the basis for creating the bio-based and circular economies.

Such development guidelines will help upgrade the country’s agricultural industry from the traditional agricultural products processing industry to the high-value bio-based processing and production one. This will maintain price stability of agricultural products in the country, increase income and improve the quality of farmers’ life, reduce economic inequality of Thai society, solve pollution and environmental problems as well as creating added value and competitiveness for the country’s industrial sector.

The results of the project study revealed that the targeted biological products which are the most highly potential and should be developed for the biorefinery industry in Thailand are:

1) Amino acids which is used as dietary supplements, such as trionine, tryptophan and lysine from plants that provide starch and sugars, particularly sugar cane and cassava; and

2) Bio-lubricant (Biolubricant) from oil plants like palm oil. There are also products that have potential in the minor level, namely bio-transformer oil (BioTransformer oil), Methyl Ester Sulfonate (MES), and biofuel products like Bio Hydrogenated Diesel or Green Diesel. Such products are highly environmentally friendly, have a high demand and growth trend in the global market, including high unit prices. This can be considered as an opportunity for the government and Thai entrepreneurs to promote investment or facilitate joint ventures for those products and expand outputs commercially.

Regarding the value of biorefinery products in the world market, it is expected that there tend to be a continuous expansion with an average growth rate of 9.41% per year from 2018 to 2030. In 2021, biorefinery products were worth US$670,840 million. By 2030, they will have reached US$1,734.51 billion. This is in line with the growth of the production technology market value for biorefinery industries, which is expected to rise at an average rate of 10.43% per year during the said period.