BANGKOK (Commodity Online) : World's largest rice exporter, Thailand's exports of rice and other foods are expected to rise this year by five to ten percent, according to country's Commerce Ministry.

The ministry, in a statement said food exports in particular would recover to growth of as much as 10% after dropping by 7.37% in 2009 to $19.56 billion, mainly because of the global recession.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Export Promotion Department attributed the recovering prospects for the food sector to the global economic recovery, lower production in several food-producing countries due to poor weather, and the elimination of tariffs under the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta).

''The private sector also expects Thailand will be able to export more food and rice this year as the global economy continues to recover and crops in competing countries have been damaged by natural disasters,'' it said.

The National Food Institute (NFI) recently forecast that Thailand's food exports would grow by 10% per year to 1.1 trillion baht by 2014, from 750 billion baht last year, with innovation and food safety paving the way.

The institute forecasts export growth this year in a range of 7.5% to 10% to between 793 billion and 826 billion baht, spurred by global recovery.

Food currently accounts for 8.3% of the country's export value. Exports to the US, the EU, Japan, and Asean accounted for about 15% each.