Rice scheme forces change of strategy for exporter

Bangsue Chia Meng Rice Mill Co, the maker of Hong Thong packed rice, has revised its business strategy after the rice pledging scheme affected sales these past two years.

Company chairman Vallop Manathanya said the scheme has hurt many rice exporters by boosting the price of Thai rice above that of rival countries in the global market.

Mr Vallop said Chia Meng is no exception, with sales stagnant at 5 billion baht with zero growth both in both 2011 and 2012.

He said the company must focus on the domestic market instead.

To this end, it spent 100 million baht to open a new unit, BSMC Foods, producing ready-to-eat foods and health drinks.

The subsidiary will soon distribute Hong Thong ready-to-eat brown rice, aimed at customers with a modern, hectic lifestyle.

Next will be Frezfill rice milk and Enere energy drink made from rice.

The energy drink will be exported to the US and Europe, particularly the UK and Scandinavia.

"This is the first time in more than five decades that we've added rice-based products to our line. But their value is about 10 times greater than traditional rice items," said Mr Vallop.

The company expects to generate sales of 200-300 million baht from the new line-up next year, with 60-70% coming from exports.

As well, Chia Meng will build a 115-million-baht warehouse in Si Sa Ket province to store up to 40,000 tonnes of rice per year.