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3-Food: Thailand (3): Major food company drops US GM soybean oil



-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  Firm avoids GM controversy
Thai Theparos drops N. America, looks for Asian suppliers
SOURCE: The Bangkok Post, by Sukanya Jitpleecheep
DATE:   November 17, 1999

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


Firm avoids GM controversy
Thai Theparos drops North America, looks for Asian suppliers 

Thai Theparos Food Products Plc, a major food seasoning company
known for its Gold Mountain brand, will buy soybean oil from
India and China rather than North America to avoid problems with
consumers worried by genetically modified food. It hopes the
change, starting in the first quarter of next year, will avoid
potential consumer resistance to genetically modified (GM)
ingredients, according to general manager Chira Pipatpoka. He
said the company would not necessarily benefit from the lower
price of crude soybean oil bought in Asia, but could face a 4-5%
increase in prices driven by stronger demand for Asian soybean
oil, said to be free from GM beans. The company is importing 250
tonnes per month, half of its requirements.

As the company was increasing its exports of seasonings, it
wanted to avoid a backlash over GM food, he said. Exports now
make up 10% of its sales estimated to be worth a total of 1.2
billion baht this year, up from 9% of 1.1 billion baht last year.
The United States, Australia and Europe are the main buyers.
"Although I have not had any problem with crude soybean oil from
Canada, I can't risk ruining our export plan," Mr Chira said.
Next year, the company would increase shipments to existing
markets and aim for 15-20% export growth overall, he said. Within
three to five years, exports should make up 25-30% of the total
business, he said.

Marketing manager Tanawat Winyarat said that for the first time,
the company would launch promotions abroad next year, offering
free samples and special packs. The company was seeking alliances
and more sales distributors abroad. It now has distributors in
Australia, Singapore and Burma. "Besides Asians in western
countries, who are our main targets, we want to attract western
people who are trying more Asian cuisine," he said.

In the domestic market, the company was focusing on segments in
which it was not the market leader, he said. These include
ketchup, oyster sauce and fermented soy sauce. In the first nine
months of this year, the company recorded a 20% increase in sales
revenue to 986 million baht. Compared with the same period last
year, profit increased by 29% to 183 million baht. Gold Mountain
seasoning is the firm's main product, representing 72% of its
sales, followed by chilli sauce, distilled vinegar and other
seasonings.

The Thai market for seasonings is estimated to be worth about 10
billion baht this year. Of this, fish sauce contributes five
billion baht; seasoning powder 1.2 billion baht; seasoning sauce
1.5 billion baht; fermented soy sauce and soybean paste 900
million baht; chilli sauce and oyster sauce 500 million baht
each; and tomato ketchup and distilled vinegar 400 million baht.
Gold Mountain seasoning source is the market leader in its
segment, with a 50% market share, followed by Nguan Chiang with
17%, and Nestle's Maggi with 15%.


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