SET-listed Taokaenoi Food & Marketing Plc (TKN), the maker of Tao Kae Noi seaweed snacks, aims for sales growth of over 10% in 2019 to more than 6 billion baht, with the Chinese market making the largest contribution.
Chief executive Ittipat Peeradechapan said China remains the largest market for the company, generating 2 billion baht in sales last year, up 10% from 2017. China accounted for 40% of the 5.66 billion baht in total sales.
"If sales in China reach 3 billion baht, an amount we expect to have over the next few years, we will consider an investment in setting up a factory in China," Mr Ittipat said. "Currently we are the market leader in imported seaweed snacks in China, which are valued at 15 billion baht."
The 34-year-old billionaire said sales in China are expected to rise after TKN this month launched a flagship store at Tmall, the Chinese-language website for business-to-consumer sales owned by the giant Alibaba Group.
The Tmall presence will help build engagement with Chinese customers, Mr Ittipat said.
TKN has been in the Chinese market for a decade. It has three distributors in China in the three key cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The company's second-largest export market is Indonesia, followed by Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. TKN also exports to European markets like Britain and Germany.
Late last year the company launched seaweed snacks under a new brand, Nora, in the US, as the name is more easily pronounced than Tao Kae Noi.
Mr Ittipat said TKN will spend 200 million baht in 2019 to improve production capacity with an automated system at its factory in Rojana Industrial Park, which has a maximum production capacity of 10,000 tonnes for three phases.
The factory currently runs in two phases with a combined capacity of 5,000-6,000 tonnes a year worth 6-7 billion baht in sales. Full production capacity for the two phases is for 8 billion baht.
Mr Ittipat said the market value of seaweed snacks in Thailand totalled 3.03 billion baht in 2018, up 5.2%, with grilled seaweed posting the highest growth at 24.5%. Taokaenoi had a market share of 69% of the seaweed snack market.
TKN shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 10 baht, down 30 satang, in trade worth 194.6 million baht.