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Food, beverage firms upbeat

DESPITE the economic slowdown, local food and beverage producers are strongly confident that they will enjoy growth of 15 per cent this year, against single-digit growth in the market.

They believe that innovation and high concern for food safety, as well as forceful marketing to consumers, are the keys to sustainable growth.

Betagro expects to boost sales by 15 per cent to Bt87 billion this year by investing Bt3 billion in both home and overseas markets.

Vasit Taepaisitphongse, chief operating officer, said yesterday at Thaifex, Thailand's international showcase of food products and innovation being held in Muang Thong Thani, that Betagro had spent about Bt1 billion to establish a feed-meal plant in Cambodia. The first phrase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year with a production capacity of 16,000 tonnes.

The company also recently opened a chicken-processing plant in Phatthalung worth Bt650 million.

The political problem has not dented the sales of the company. Prices for livestock products have increased this year. To reach out to more end consumers, the company will expand its Betagro shops to 150 locations by next year. It has 110 outlets in Thailand and one that opened in Vientiane, Laos, last month. Singha Corp will focus not only on its existing alcohol business, but also on new business opportunities, especially in non-alcoholic products, marketing director Chatchai Viratyosin said at Thaifex.

The expansion will be conducted via joint ventures and acquisitions, aimed at boosting its exports and potential for overseas expansion.

The company recently formed a 50:50 joint venture in Thailand with Maruzen Tea, a top-three green-tea producer in Japan, to produce powdered green tea for delivery to mainland China and Taiwan. The Bt100-million factory to be set up at the Boon Rawd Farm in Chiang Rai will also supply the Thai food industry.

The company expanded its product line to ready-to-cook foods after acquiring a local food-processing firm and renaming it Boon Rawd Foods. The factory will produce canned foods with a focus on foreign-owned Thai restaurants abroad.

Vittavat Tantivess, executive vice president of Charoen Pokphand Foods, said the firm was projected to grow by 15 per cent this year.

"Although the political conflict has washed out consumer sentiment, food products have not been affected by the problem. To promote growth, the company this year has gradually launched new products to attract consumers. Many new products have earned a good response from the market," he said.

Thai Dairy Industry, producer of Mali condensed milk, is aiming to double its exports to Bt1 billion this year.

Suthanom Karnasuta, deputy managing director, said the firm would put more emphasis on exports, after focusing only on the domestic market for many years.Indonesia, China and Asean are the major destinations. Initially, the firm will market its products through its local distributors in each market. The firm has generated about Bt500 million from exports. This year, its domestic sales are expected to be unchanged from last year's Bt2.5 billion, she said.


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