Green Spot Co, the producer of Vitamilk soy milk, has spent 4 billion baht -- its biggest investment in 20 years -- on a new plant to make healthy drink products as its seeks to become a leading soy beverage maker in Asia and Africa by 2020.
Prachuab Tayakeepisut, director of corporate affairs, said the company's third factory, in Nong Kae Industrial Estate of Saraburi province, is scheduled to start commercial operations in July, making only products for health such as soy drinks.
Established on April 1, 1954 and led by Chin Sophonpanich, the company runs two factories in Rangsit and Surat Thani.
In 1958, the company was the first in Thailand to manufacture a soybean-based milk, under the trademark Vitamilk.
"Health consciousness is the new megatrend, which is where we are heading," Mr Prachuab said. "Over the next five years, all of our new products will have the Healthier Choice logo, up from seven formulas at present."
The company recently launched new soy milk products that contain a sugar level of less than six grammes per 100 milligrammes.
Mr Prachuab said the Food and Drug Administration intends to promote the Healthier Choice logo to reshape Thais' consumption habits away from high sugar intake.
A new excise tax on drinks will also play a part in rehabilitating Thais' consumption behaviour.
Under the new tax, drinks that contain a sugar level exceeding 10% are required to pay excise tax at a progressive rate.
Mr Prachuab said all the company's new products will contain low sugar.
"Cooperation between the public and private sectors to promote healthier consumption habits will be a key driver of the company's sales growth, as our products are widely available at schools and shops," he said.
Green Spot is one of Thailand's biggest soy milk makers, with soy milk currently contributing more than 95% of the company's total revenue worth about 8 billion baht last year.
The remaining revenue came from bottled orange juice under the Green Spot brand. Exports account for 30% of the company's revenue, with the rest from the domestic market.
At present, Thailand has three major brands of soy milk: Vitamilk, Lactasoy and the Deena brand. Thailand's soy milk market is worth 17-18 billion baht a year, with average growth of 3-4%.
Mr Prachuab said the company's expected sales growth of 5-8% will outpace industry growth this year.