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Push to make mangosteens more profitable

Ten scientists led by Prof Dr Pichaet Wiriyachitra have joined hands to establish the Thai Mangosteen Research and Development Centre (TMR&D), aimed at increasing value-added Thai mangosteens to solve the oversupply of the fruit that has lasted for years.

Published on January 12, 2008

Its first pilot project involves developing a health drink and a food-supplement capsule, both made from mangosteens.

The pilot project will last for 12 months starting in April and require 1,000 tonnes of mangosteens for manufacturing four million units. The first product should be launched late in the second quarter or early in the third, Pichaet said.

The centre expects to sign agreements with its partners and have two manufacturing companies and agriculture produce from the Eastern Seaboard and South in the next two months. The centre expects the first project to generate up to Bt200 million in revenue.

Pichaet admitted the amount used for manufacturing the planned products was very small compared with the overall mangosteens available in the market.

Yet he expects the centre to increase its buying volume up to 10,000 tonnes in the next two or three years once the first two products gain strong public awareness and consumer demand increases.

In establishing the centre, Pichaet himself has made an initial investment of Bt15 million and gathered 10 scientists who have been conducting mangosteen research and development for more than 20 years to conduct more research and share their findings.

He said mangosteen growers today were suffering severely from very low returns. The amount produced in the overall market significantly exceeds demand. Last year, that amount reach 235,000 tonnes, and farmers in Rayong province were forced to sell at the very cheap price of Bt5 per kilogram, while farmers in Nakhon Si Thammarat had to sell their crops for Bt3 a kilogram. Still other farmers had to let their mangosteens rot.

A lack of good management systems is another problem leading to ineffectiveness in distributing the fruit despite its high potential. Pichaet gave the example of a US company that exploited many studies by Asian scientists, mostly Thais, to sell its mangosteen products, generating as much as Bt40 billion just in two years.

He said TMR&D would collect all useful studies and create wide public awareness of the health benefits of mangosteens in preventing some serious diseases. Meanwhile, he will use the connections of the company where he works as managing director - Asian Life - to help distribute the mangosteen products. He expects to cover not only the domestic market, but also international ones, particularly Japan, the US and Europe.

The centre expects to gain partnerships both for additional investment and for accreditation of its products with the National Food Institute of Thailand and the Agricultural Research Development Agency.

Nitida Asawanipont

The Nation


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