ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai coconut oil surges
Believed to be unhealthy for several decades, coconut oil has fought its way back into the hearts of health-conscious consumers as a nutritious food. The price of coconuts has risen from only a few baht each many years ago to a high of 27 baht earlier this year, as a pest outbreak greatly diminished output.
No business is happier than Tropicanaoil Co, a producer of virgin coconut oil and the winner of this year's Prime Minister's Export Award under the OTOP Export Recognition category.
The company started its cold-pressed 100 percent coconut oil seven years ago by distributing through health-food shops. The market was small in the beginning but output has skyrocketed to 10,000 litres a month once consumers learned more about the properties of the product.
Tropicanaoil anticipates 60 million baht in sales this year from retailing its oil at 550 baht (US$18.34) a litre along with several healthcare products using coconut oil as their main ingredient. The company targets 30 percent growth next year through expansion in both domestic and overseas markets.
Suradej Ninek, the company's managing director, recalled that the road to success was a bumpy one as it took consumers a while to learn about the benefits of virgin coconut oil.
The production process of many coconut oil crushers a decade ago was not well developed, casting doubt on quality. The first group to latch on to Tropicanaoil's product was health-conscious, educated people over 45 who have purchasing power.
Now a younger market is paying attention to coconut oil for beauty care. Around 70 percent of sales are from the domestic market, where half consume it and the other half use it for beauty products.
He noted the quality of company's oil offers an advantage over other producers in Asia-Pacific and it will continue to focus on Russia, China and Japan where it has already established distribution networks. However, it will also expand more in Asean, particularly in Vietnam, in order to reap the benefits of the planned single market.
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