Khao Lam "sticky rice baked inside a bamboo cylinder" will be packaged in versatile aluminum foil by one Chon Buri producer.
Packaging is a critical part of an effective product design (See essential marketing vocabulary).
A long bamboo tube has long been the traditional packaging of the Thai sweet Khao Lam but this may be changing in some places due a shortage of bamboo.
Click button to listen to Packaging Khao Lam and rightclick to download
Marketing: Thinking out of the tube by Walailak Keeratipipatpong
Khao larm now comes in aluminium foil as bamboo is scarce. Less exotic, but better in other ways.
The dwindling supply of bamboo will likely have a great impact on Thai food, particularly khao larm, sticky rice baked inside a bamboo cylinder.
To conserve this delicious dessert, Mae Charoen, a khao larm producer in Chon Buri's Nong Mon market, has decided to package the dessert in aluminium foil cups, which she claims can retain the same flavour and aroma of coconut milk as do bamboo tubes.
The new container can also extend the shelf life of the sweet for up to two weeks instead of one to three days in a bamboo tube," said Nattida Homhuan, the owner of Mae Charoen khao larm.
The 40-year-old sweet shop uses up to 1,500 bamboo cylinders per day to fill about 100 litres of glutinous rice mixed with sugar and coconut milk to prepare khao larm, a popular Thai dessert.
Although the food is made in many provinces, only a few places including Chon Buri and Nakhon Pathom use foot-long green bamboo (Cephalostachyum pergracile) tubes to fill with sticky rice without peeling off its bark.
In our early years, there was no problem with the bamboo supply. We were able to get them easily in nearby areas. But now the situation has changed. We have to source them from as far as Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi, and some are even from Cambodia," she said.
The problem of the bamboo shortage is growing worse, as local authorities have prohibited villagers from felling the trees in the two provinces for conservation reasons, driving up their prices, she said
Of the 25 baht per unit of khao larm, 10 baht is for the bamboo container. More importantly, the heavy use of bamboo and smoke generated from grilling khao larm have a critical impact on the environment," she said.
The challenges drove Mrs Nattida to seek advice from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (Osmep), first to develop a gas-fuelled muffle furnace that has a capacity to produce up to 300 tubes of khao larm in two to three hours, compared with more than 10 hours in the traditional way.
The equipment worked successfully, helping her cut the cost, time and pollution. More khao larm makers in Nong Mon are now turning to this tool, leaving a few to stick to charcoal grills.
The second guidance she received from Osmep was to replace bamboo cylinders with aluminium foil, which enabled her to make khao larm with a larger variety of toppings: egg custard, young coconut, taro, orange and green tea.
A 150-gramme cup of khao larm is sold for 25 baht. It also comes in a package of three.
The easy-to-serve and microwavable container has enabled Mae Charoen khao larm to expand its market to cover modern trade, supply to airlines and even export.
Yuthasak Supasorn, the Osmep director-general, said some other foods, such as grilled chicken, also use bamboo. He encourages producers to replace it with different products in order to reduce the use of the trees.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Marketing, Thinking out of the tube, 14/10/2010, Walailak Keeratipipatpong, link)
Khao Lam - a sweet Thai desert food traditionally packaged in a bamboo tube, "sticky rice baked inside a bamboo cylinder" (See explanation at Saleethai Recipe blog)
shortage - situation where there is not enough of something that people need and want ความขาดแคลน
packaging - the container or covering for a product while it is waiting to be sold in stores, "the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use" (See Wikipedia on packaging and labeling)
critical - very important, very serious and dangerous สำคัญยิ่ง
effective - works well and produces intended result
product design - the process of generating and developing ideas that will lead to new products to meet customer needs (See Wikipedia)
mainstay - an important thing that people use all the time (here: food they eat all the time) คนหรือสิ่งที่เป็นหลักสำคัญ
versatile - able to be used in many different ways ซึ่งมีประโยชน์หลายอย่าง
tube - a long hollow cylinder made from plastic, metal, rubber or glass ท่อ, หลอด
thinking out of the box - being creative, dreaming up ideas different from the usual ones that people think of (note: the title above "thinking out of the tube" is a play on words using this phrase)
play on words - playing with the words of a text in an amusing or humorous way (See Wikipedia)
foil - paper thin sheets of a metal such as aluminum used to wrap and preserve food
preserve - to keep something in good condition, prevent it from decaying, rotting or being damaged
scarce - not easy to find or get ขาดแคลน, ไม่เพียงพอ, หายาก
exotic - exciting because it is unusual, strange and not familiar
dwindling - decreasing
bamboo - very tall green trees that look like a pole, very common in Asia (See Wikipedia)
impact - an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
cylinder - a wide tube-shaped object (See Wikipedia)
conserve - to keep and protect something from damage, change or waste สงวน,เก็บรักษา
producer - a business which makes a certain product
retain - keep something, not lose it
aroma - a strong pleasant smell
extend - to add more time ยืดออกไป
shelf life - the length of time that a product can stay on store shelves (before it must be removed and thrown away)
glutinous rice - "sticky rice" is the more common name (See Wikipedia)
foot-long green bamboo (Cephalostachyum pergracile) - a variety of bamboo used by a few sellers to make special packaging for Khao Lam (See description and photos)
peel - to remove the skin from a fruit or vegetable
bark - the hard outside cover on a tree
source (noun) - the place or person something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something ต้นกำเนิด, แหล่งกำเนิด
source (verb) - look for a source that can provide a supply of some good you need (example: source bamboo for Khao Lam packaging)
shortage - when there is not enough of something การขาดแคลน
local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
authorities - government officials, the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
felling - cutting down trees
prohibited - make a rule that someone cannot do some activity
conservation - the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้
generated - created
grill - metal bars, food is placed on top and cooked over heat or fire
charcoal - a black substance made from burnt wood ถ่าน
charcoal grill - a grill with charcoal burning underneath to produce heat and cook food
environment - the natural world of land, sea, plants, and animals
challenges - new and difficult problems to solve, that require effort and determination
Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (Osmep) - the Thai government office in charge of promoting and encouraging SMEs in Thailand (See website)
gas-fuelled - using gas (as a fuel to create heat)
muffle - to make a sound quieter, less noisy and more difficult to hear ทำให้เงียบ, เก็บเสียง
furnace - a large container that burns fuel (used for different purposes such as heating or creating some product) (See Wikipedia)
capacity - the amount of something that can be produced ความสามารถในการ (ผลิต)
traditional - the old way of doing something in a country or society, that has been used for a long time
guidance - help and advice about how to do something or about how to deal with problems การแนะแนว, การแนะนำ
replace - to get rid of someone or something, and to put a new person or thing in its place เลิกให้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน
variety - many different types of things or people ความหลากหลาย
toppings - food that you put on top of other food (examples: sauce, sprinkles, etc)
custard - a desert food made with a mixture of milk, cream and egg (See Wikipedia)
taro - the root of a plant used for cooking around the world (See Wikipedia)
microwave - a microwave oven, a quick way of heating and cooking food (See Wikipedia)
microwavable - food that can be cooked in a microwave
expand - to become larger ขายตัวออกไป
trade - the buying and selling of goods การค้าขาย
grilled - cooked by direct heat, especially under a very hot surface ย่าง
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