SALILAPORN Kongthongmaneeroj, daughter of well-known Thai folk singer Sornthep Sornthong, dreams of making her own branded food supplements widely popular among Thais as well as consumers in neighbouring countries, especially China and Cambodia.
“My dream is to see my food-supplement brands primarily recognised by consumers who love to take food supplements, as their beloved brands in terms of good quality and trust,” she said.
Her company’s absolute goal is to be one of the key players in the health business, and not only limited to nutrition or food supplements, she added.
“We all see the lifestyle trend in which people are giving more and more importance to health. So it would be very nice for our products to become part of their life essentials,” said the founder and CEO of Me Infinity (Thailand) Co Ltd.
Salilaporn, 39, graduated in business administration from North Eastern University, as well as attaining a bachelor’s in public administration, in 1999, followed by a master’s in business administration from Khon Kaen University, and a mental-health degree from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, in 2002.
She also studied traditional Thai medicine, gaining a medical licence about 10 years ago.
Salilaporn said her father, now 64, founded a traditional-medicine business in 1984, with his first shop on Chaeng Wattana Road Soi 28.
He later started production of his own traditional medicines in 1997 via a local manufacturer.
“I have seen the development of traditional medicines made from Thai herbs, and have had the chance to study traditional medicine and pharmacy. I’m my father’s hope in continuing the family’s business,” said Salilaporn, who first took part in the family business in accounting and management roles in 2003.
“Four years ago, I set up my owned company, Me Infinity (Thailand), to produce and market my own brands of food supplements,” she added.
Her supplement brands are Iceberg, I-Dee and I-Calcium Plus, plus she owns the Lady Secret cosmetics brand.
“We are looking to expand our market, first to neighbouring countries and then elsewhere in Asean. There is a good opportunity now that the AEC [Asean Economic Community] market is opening up. After that, China could be an interesting market for us, though competition might be tough.
“The Chinese market is huge, and we have already started to incorporate nutritious Chinese herbs into our products. We are quite confident that our products could be popular there,” she said.
“The key inspiration behind setting up my nutrition firm is my father’s business. My father, who is still a country singer, became very famous during the height of his singing career. He turned himself into a businessman by having his music fans as a customer base, as he realised that a singing career cannot last forever.
“The products that he mainly produced comprised ingredients based strictly on Thai herbs and plants known to have health benefits. I’v seen the evolution of his products, from bolus made by hand to capsules made by modern manufacturing,” she explained.
Salilaporn said that, according to the Food Intelligence Centre of Thailand, the value of the vitamin and food-supplement market in Thailand is nearly Bt50 billion, with 11-per-cent in annual growth.
Outside the leading brands, smaller branded players account for 39 per cent of a competitive market, which is expected to expand for at least the next five years.
Competition will be in the development of nutritional products that benefit specific parts of the body, she predicted.