Vantanee Saeng-U-Tai, vice president of Lucky Union Food Co Ltd, presents the company's surimi-based limitation crab stick products under the Kani Family brand.
Vantanee Saeng-U-Tai, vice president of Lucky Union Food Co Ltd, presents the company's surimi-based limitation crab stick products under the Kani Family brand.

Lucky seeks to counter trade barriers and baht challenges

business March 19, 2018 01:00

By Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn
The Nation

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SURIMI PRODUCTS FIRM TO REFOCUS ON the DOMESTIC MARKET TO BALANCE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH EXPORTS 



LUCKY Union Foods Co Ltd, a Thai producer of surimibased products, plans to seek a balance between domesฌtic and overseas sales to counter any risks caused by a stronger baht and trade barriers raised by importing countries.

Vantanee Saeng-U-Tai, vice president of Lucky Union Foods Co Ltd, said the company is currently subject to 20 per cent import duty on exports of its surimi products to some markets in Europe and the United States. 

This is despite rival producers in countries such as Vietnam and Lithuania exporting their surimi prodฌucts to these Western markets with zero import duties and thus gaining higher trade privileges.

 “Because of the [previous] strategy set by our shareholders, we have neglected the domestic market in Thailand for more than 20 years, and it is now time to come back to penetrate this potential market seriously,” she said.

The company has been exporting its frozen surimibased products from its plant in Samut Sakhon province to more than 50 markets around the world. It set up a wholly owned processing plant in Poland in 2008 to be responsible for exports of its chilled products to about 25 markets in Europe.

Vantanee said that exports accounted for about 70 per cent of total sales in 2012 and 2014, but will reach 60 per cent this year.

“Our aim is to balance export and domestic sales at 50/50,” she said, adding that for exports, the company is penetrating promising markets in Africa. Vantanee said that in export markets, the company targets people in the middle to higherincome bracket as its core customers. While in Thailand, the customers of its surimi products cover the full spectrum of income groups. 

There is little difference between the bottom line margins for domestic and overseas sales, Vantanee said.

Vantanee said that Lucky Union Foods a few years ago invested in new machinery at its factory, at Samutsakorn (Mahachai) Industrial Estate, to raise its production capacity from 20,000 tonnes per annum to 40,000 tonnes. The factory now produces between 30,000 and 35,000 tonnes per year.

Lucky Union Foods also aimed to penetrate modern trade and leading department stores including supermarkets, convenience stores, food chains, fresh market representatives, and with business partners. With 27 years in business, the company has notched strong export sales, with the expansion to Poland starting in 2005. 

Kani Family by Lucky Union Foods, under the concept “LUF New Renovation”, recently launched the Kani Family Taraba Red King Crab stick and announced its strategy and brandbuilding efforts that are aimed at attracting young people.

Vantanee said that, with sales targeted at food service businesses, fresh markets, food chains, and modern trade outlets with a range of products, company’s sales volume reached Bt1 billion last year. For this year, the company aims to grow that by 30 per cent to Bt1.3 billion for the domestic market. The company will expand the market and create more awareness among consumers. 

“We aim to distribute our products via food service at 50 per cent and modern trade at 50 per cent,” Vantanee said. For the modern trade sector, the company planned to import more products to respond to consumers’ need. 

 “For the export market, we aim to grow 15 per cent to Bt2.3 billion by penetrating new markets in Europe, America, Oceania, Africa and Asia with quality products with catch certificates. The company operates under Thai Union Group’s policies for both domestic and international markets,” Vantanee said.

“With our strong research and business development team and quality assurance team, the company can develop products and expand its business with the surimi products. Produced with high technology, Kani Family Surimi Taraba Red King Crab stick is inspired by Red King Crab and made from surimi to taste like Taraba Red King Crab for everyone to enjoy.”

Suradej Chinsakuljaroen, marketing director of Lucky Union Foods, outlining the strategies for 2018, said: “For 201820, the company aims to grow 30 per cent via modern trade by focusing on ready-toeat products. The company plans to invest Bt30 million to arrange marketing activities and promoฌtions for both domestic and international markets with online campaigns to engage consumers as well as product development for premiฌum crab sticks to continue its leadership.”

“The company launched Lucky Mart Shop Online, an ecommerce channel by joining logistics partners to provide convenience and speed. For 2020, the company will open 2020 Kani Family Global strategies to expand the market and expand Kani Family brand to international market including America, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Southeast Asia with International Endorsement to grow the brand competency in the international market.”

 Lucky Union Foods Co Ltd started commercial operations in 1992.

LUF is described as a highquality surimibased products processing factory.

“We are dedicated to delivering a wide variety and selections of surimi products to a large number of customers across the globe,” the company said. “The products have been widely served in types of cuisine, like sushi topping for Japanese food, in hot pots, noodles, soup toppings and cold – dishes in Chinese food, and in Westernstyle salads.

“Being a growing company, our commitment is to constantly provide our customers with wide range of healthy, quality and delicious products.”