Fruit juice producers to protest sugar tax

Fruit juice producers to protest sugar tax

Doi Kham claims sales have dropped 40% since the Excise Department slapped on tax on 'sugary drinks' that covers the natural sugar in fruit. (File photo by Kosol Nakachol)
Doi Kham claims sales have dropped 40% since the Excise Department slapped on tax on 'sugary drinks' that covers the natural sugar in fruit. (File photo by Kosol Nakachol)

Doi Kham Food Products Co, the maker and distributor of Doi Kham fruit juice, will team with the Thai Beverage Industry Association to meet the Excise Department later this month as it aims to revise the sugar consumption tax, which it says has hurt the fruit juice industry.

Pipatpong Israsena, the company's president and chief executive, said overall sales in the fruit juice industry have drastically fallen since enforcement of the excise tax on sugary drinks last month.

"Since September, sales of Doi Kham have dropped by 40% and we expect sales of only 2 billion baht this year, down from our projection of 2.1-2.2 billion," said Mr Pipatpong.

He said Doi Kham and the association will focus efforts on telling the Excise Department the tax should only be for sugar added to fruit juice, not on natural sugars inherent in fruit.

"The association and Doi Kham have tried to talk with the department many times about this issue and we will never give up," said Mr Pipatpong. "It is widely known there is high natural sugar content in tropical fruits and we cannot make lychee and longan juices without sugar."

He insisted the sugar consumption tax should not follow similar rules imposed in Western countries because Thailand is tropical and the fruits here are sweeter than Western fruits.

Mr Pipatpong said campaigns focusing on the negative side of sugar consumption make consumers panicked.

Even though sales have underperformed, the company is continuing with its expansion in the fourth quarter this year, he said.

Pipatpong: Local fruits are high in sugar

In a related development, Doi Kham Food Products on Monday announced a partnership with Coca-Cola System, the trademark owner of Coca-Cola and Minute Maid ready-to-drink juice, and ThaiNumthip Limited, the local bottler of Coca-Cola drink in Thailand, to launch new Minute Maid variants using tomato and passion fruit from Doi Kham.

Coca-Cola has launched Minute Maid's tomato juice with orange pulp and passion fruit flavoured with honey and lime to the market this month.

Doi Kham bought 12,000-30,000 tonnes of tomatoes from farmers and 5,000 tonnes of passion fruit per year.

The cooperation between Doi Kham and Coca-Cola System Group was initiated one year before officially launching Minute Maid-Doi Kham cobranded products to the market this month.

Pornwut Sarasin, chairman of ThaiNumthip, said the partnership with Doi Kham is the perfect opportunity for the Coca-Cola System in Thailand to support the country's farmers with sustainable agriculture by sourcing local ingredients.

According to the Retail Index Data from The Nielsen Company Thailand, Thailand's ready-to-drink juice market is estimated to be worth 12 billion baht. Minute Maid controls 11.5% market share.

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