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The extreme winter weather wreaking havoc with Europe’s airports could cost Thailand one billion baht in lost food shipments if disruptions continue for two or three weeks, say exporters. Europe is the largest destination for Thai vegetables. The country ships 15 billion baht worth of fruits and vegetables combined to the continent each year. Overall, the EU takes 30% of the country’s 800 billion baht worth of food exports each year, said Visit Limprana, president of the Federation of Thai Industries’ food processing industry club.

The impact of the bad weather has been severe given that food demand is very high for Christmas and New Year celebrations, he said.

“And the problem looks set to continue for another two to three weeks until after New Year. If it does, we estimate the damage at about one billion baht.” Chusak Chuenprayoth, an adviser to the Thai Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association, said daily exports to Europe of 150-200 million tonnes worth 50 million baht have been affected. “Airlines flying to Europe have started refusing to carry export goods in order to free up cargo space for more fuel, as they don’t know how long the chaos will last,” he said. Exporters have begun to adjust their shipment routes by shifting their goods by air to the Middle East, especially the Dubai hub, said Mr Chusak. But they face the same situation, as carriers such as Emirates have limited cargo space.

“This is something beyond our expectation,” he said, adding that the heavy snow in some countries have also made shipments by truck impossible.

London’s Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, is the main hub for Thai fruit and vegetable exports, to meet high demand from Thai restaurants, grocery stores and department stores in the UK. “London is expecting more snowfall this weekend. That may result in the situation not easing within the next week,” said Mr Chusak. FTI vice-chairman Thanit Sorat, also chairman of the logistics operator V-Serve Group, said exports of integrated circuits and flowers have also been hurt. “We export a lot of flowers to Europe at this time of year, as the winter cold prevents them being grown there,” he said.

source:  www.21food.com