Thailand, one of the world’s largest producers of chicken products, is struggling to keep pace with exports. Japanese food companies, one of the major importers of Thai chicken, are feeling the effects.
Like many industries, it is a labor shortage that causes many problems. All over the world, supply chains have been severely disrupted by the Covid pandemic and workers have not been able to return to the factories producing the products. Including the chicken.
Nichirei Foods is one of Japan’s leading frozen food producers, headquartered in Tokyo, but with significant investments in Thai food factories. They had to cease operations at one of its Thai processing plants due to the shortage of migrant labor. Much of Thailand’s low-skilled workforce has traditionally come from Myanmar and Cambodia. But the closing of the borders made it difficult for the workers to return.
Today, the factory is back in production but is only operating at half capacity, but the company is still considering suspending sales of some of its frozen products.
Labor shortages have also hit the Nippon Suisan Kaisha company. They were looking to launch a new frozen product in September, but that has now been shelved as the company tries to address a worker shortage. He also reported general shortages of migrant labor due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thailand is the 8th largest producer of chicken products in the world. The United States remains by far the largest producer.
Meanwhile, the Ajinomoto Frozen Food company complains that it is running out of Thai chicken products in its supermarkets in Japan due to a supply that is below estimates.