Olive & More
Importer targets growing taste for antipasti
Thitinan Kiatphaibool, former managing director of Max & Mighty, an importer of cosmetics and Red Mango frozen-yoghurt and smoothie products from South Korea, has set up her own company, Olives & More, for the import of fresh olive and other antipasti products from the United Kingdom.Thitinan, 37, daughter of Sompol Kiatphaibool, chairman of the board of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, said that driven by her personal preference for fresh olives and Italian foods, she saw a tremendous opportunity to convert what she likes into a real business.
"I have seen Thailand as a potential market for fresh olives and antipasti products, thanks to the high expansion of hotels and premium Italian and fusion restaurants in the Kingdom. Organic foods featuring natural taste have become more popular and highly recognised by local consumers in the past five to 10 years," she said. To cash in on the potential, Thitinan in April set up Olives & More together with her friends Jakra Srinaganand and Francois Vandelangkruis. He has connections with the owner of Fresh Olive, a UK-based supplier of premium-quality, authentic ingredients, including fresh olives, sourced from Mediterranean countries such as Greece, France, Spain and Morocco. The British company has been in business for more than 20 years.
"I have seen a tendency of Thai consumers who prefer more premium and healthy organic foods with natural tastes," Thitinan said.
She graduated with a bachelor's degree from the faculty of law, Chulalongkorn University, in 1996, and a master's in corporate finance law from George Washington University in 2000. She then worked for international law firm Baker & McKenzie for almost six years.
She formed Max & Mighty in 2007 with a Korean partner. Thitinan sold all of her shares and left the company in 2010 as a result of management conflict.
She said Olives & More presented itself to the public at the Thaifex fair last month at the Challenger Hall, Impact Muang Thong Thani. The company expects sales of Bt7 million to Bt10 million in its first 12 months.
"We sell our imported fresh olives and related products via two major channels, hotels and restaurants, which account for 80 per cent, and premium supermarkets for the remaining 20 per cent," she said.
The products are now selling at Central Food Hall supermarkets and in the near future will be available at Gourmet Market, Villa Market and Rimping Supermarket in Chiang Mai.
The overall seasoning market in Thailand is worth Bt10 billion with annual growth of 25 per cent. About Bt6 billion of that is the antipasti market.
"At Olives & More, we are looking at importing not only olive oil but other organic foods such as cheese, as well as organic food products for kids. In return, we are also looking to export processed and organic fruits and related products sourced from Asia, such as dried mango and coconut, to the European market," Thitinan said.