Central Food Retail Co, operator of Central Food Hall and Tops supermarkets, says it is cooperating with the government to boost domestic consumption and the travel sector by launching a new strategy to establish Thailand as the world’s destination for tropical fruits.
By focusing on the “King of Fruits”, the durian, the company says it hopes to encourage fruit consumption on an international level.
Together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Commerce Ministry and Central Pattana, Central Food Retail is organising the “Thailand Amazing Durian & Fruit Fest”. More than 300 Thai fruits and fruit-based processed foods will be served in buffet lines taking place in three popular tourist destinations, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
Phattaraporn Phenpraphat, executive vice president for marketing and public relations at Central Food Retail, said Thailand’s excellent geographic location and pleasant climate created its potential to cultivate tasty fruits of fine quality, which are much appreciated by both Thais and foreigners.
Fruit exports generate major income for the country. In March last year, the Office of Agricultural Economics forecasts that production of durian, rambutan, mangosteen, longan, langsat and lychee would total more than 2.3 million tonnes.
As the operator of a supermarket business, Central Food Retail is an expert in selecting fresh, delicious and quality fruits from all over the country to provide to consumers. Last year, about 7,000 tonnes of 66 domestic fruits from 62 provinces were sold, the top 10 being banana, watermelon, other melons, durian, orange, mango, pineapple, papaya, longan and rambutan.
This year, the company targets overall sales of 10,000 tonnes in 232 branches (as of May).
The company hopes durian will be a selling point to promote this year’s Fruit Fest, boost Thai fruit consumption and attract more tourists.
Last August, a durian buffet was held for the first time in Thailand – that month was in the late season for durian in the Eastern region and the harvest season in the South. Feedback from the event was excellent, the company says.
Of the participants, 70 per cent were Thais and 30 per cent foreign tourists, mostly Chinese. According to a survey, the tourists were very pleased with the durian buffet. They said the price was reasonable and they wanted to come back if the buffet were to be organised again.
“The company was really satisfied with the event last year,” Phattaraporn said. “It created a signature and an image of Thailand as the world’s destination for tropical fruit. Therefore, we are making the durian buffet one of our main events this year.
“With the intention of encouraging fruit consumption and attracting tourists, we are cooperating with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Ministry of Commerce and Central Pattana to promote the event and create awareness among target markets, using two main strengths: the 17 types of durians and the locations [of the buffets], namely Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.”
At the event, there will be two zones, a buffet zone and a farmer’s market. In the buffet zone, there will be various kinds of Thai fruits, led by Monthong durian, the “Queen of Fruits” or mangosteen, rambutan, lychee, watermelon, banana, and papaya, along with more than 11 fruit products such as coconut water, Thai sticky rice with mango, and coconut-milk ice cream.
In the farmer’s market, the highlights of the event will be gathered, for example, E-nak durian from Rayong province, which is quite rare, Koh Chang Chanee durian, durian Tteokbokki, durian Bingsu, crispy mangosteen, durian macaron, and durian Chinese pastry. Overall, there will be about 300 products in both zones.
The Thailand Amazing Durian & Fruit Fest will be held in as follows:
• Bangkok from May 24-31 at the Square A area in front of CentralWorld;
• Chiang Mai from June 7-13 at the courtyard in front of CentralFestival Chiang Mai
• Phuket from June 28 to July 4 at the courtyard in front of CentralFestival Phuket.