WITH THE RAPID EVOLUTION OF CONSUMER FOOD PREFERENCE and the growing demands for food production that goes with increasing population and stronger spending power, the agri-food sector remains the biggest employment sector in the ASEAN community accounting for 38% of its work force. As such, the agri-food industry is a top-ranked priority for the ASEAN integration, with bulk of their economic growth, trade and investments depending on it. However, there is much to be accomplished for its sustainable growth and development by raising land productivity and ensuring market demands.
The ASEAN agribusiness is also gaining power in export trading. Latest studies present great opportunities for intra-ASEAN trade in agri-food. Albeit a smaller share of 2.5% to total exports as compared to a 4.3% share of extra-ASEAN exports to total exports, its growth has significantly doubled from 2008-2011 with more growth potential projected if the ASEAN is able to achieve harmonization of standards across all its participating countries and address the technical barriers to trade.