Nescafe producer introduces longan drink

Nescafe producer introduces longan drink

Firm sees potential in Chinese consumers

Prayudh Mahagitsiri, head of PM Group, is spending B1bn to build a P80 factory in Lamphun.
Prayudh Mahagitsiri, head of PM Group, is spending B1bn to build a P80 factory in Lamphun.

Prayudh Mahagitsiri has been recognised for over four decades in Thailand as the producer of Nescafe coffee for Nestle Thailand.

Now the businessman is ready to make his own beverage, P80 Natural Essence, a concentrated longan beverage, following research from an agro-industry faculty laboratory at Chiang Mai University.

The research was conducted six years ago and the researcher approached Mr Prayudh about making the drink commercially. Mr Prayudh said he turned down the approach initially until he tasted the drink himself and found there was huge business potential for such a healthy drink.

"The researcher kept making the concentrated longan drink for me and my friends even though I declined to make it commercially. But after trying the drink for a few days, I decided to add it to my business plan and start to make P80 Natural Essence for sale," he said.

Mr Prayudh said the Chinese believe longan is a valuable fruit and is good for one's health, especially the elderly.

"I hope to build the P80 product into one of our flagship products in my portfolio," Mr Prayudh said during an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post.

He said Natural Bev Co was set up two years ago with registered capital of 600 million baht to produce P80. The letter P stands for Prayudh and 80 is represents good fortune among the Chinese, said Mr Prayudh.

Natural Bev Co is a subsidiary under PM Group, the Mahagitsiri family company, which was founded in 1973 to manage various businesses, including joining with Nestle to make Nescafe in Thailand. The company's other core businesses include stainless steel, condominiums, golf courses, shipping, education and entertainment.

PM Group has allocated about 1 billion baht to build a new factory in Lamphun province to produce P80 in August or September this year, with a production capacity of 5 million bottles per month.

As an initial step, the P80 product will be sold at tourist destinations, targeting foreign tourists, particularly the Chinese. The company also plans to produce ready-to-drink P80 products for modern retail channels next year.

Natural Bev hired Manny Pacquiao, the famous Filipino boxer, to be the brand ambassador of P80 products.

Mr Prayudh vows to pay the researcher, whom he did not name, as much as 1.5 billion baht for the patent.

International food and beverage brands under the Mahagitsiri family include Krispy Kreme, the US doughnut chain, and Jamba Juice. These brands are handled by Mr Prayudh's children.

Chalermchai and Ausana, his middle son and youngest daughter, handle the Pizza Hut business, which recently secured franchise rights from Yum Restaurants International Thailand.

"My son Chalermchai will handle the P80 product. With my experience from producing Nescafe coffee for 44 years, I will give him some advice to build P80 into a global brand," he said.

Mr Prayudh said the company will simultaneously launch P80 products in Thailand, China, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Middle East this August.

The company expects sales to reach 5 billion baht in the first year of operation. Of the total, some 40% will come from the domestic market with 60% from overseas.

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