Tipco seeks startups in expansion drive

Tipco seeks startups in expansion drive

Mr Ekaphol promotes Tipco's new fruit juice products at Thaifex-World of Food Asia 2019. Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Mr Ekaphol promotes Tipco's new fruit juice products at Thaifex-World of Food Asia 2019. Pitsinee Jitpleecheep

SET-listed Tipco Foods Plc, a leading canned fruit and fruit juice manufacturer, looks set to team up with startups both locally and abroad to expand and diversify its business.

Ekaphol Pongstabhon, the company's managing director, said it will focus more on expanding via partnerships, working with startups in various areas both in Thailand and overseas to explore new business opportunities.

"We don't have a plan to heavily invest in machines, but we are looking at 4-5 important areas via startups, including smart farms, technology to extract raw materials for important substances, food startups and healthcare gadgets," he said.

Mr Ekaphol said the company is designing a business model for collaboration. It may support startups to develop their business before they bring their products to market, where Tipco could be a buyer.

Tipco may buy a 10-20% stake in these startups.

"We want to diversify. We started extracting raw materials four years ago, exporting important substances extracted from pineapples to Japan to be used in beverages and cosmetics," he said.

Tipco joined hands with an unnamed partner in the domestic herbal industry to extract an important substance from turmeric to sell as a raw material or in an herbal capsule form under a co-brand.

"Extraction will be our fourth business pillar in the future after canned fruit, beverage and retail," said Mr Ekaphol.

Tipco has sold extracted raw materials to Japan for four years with sales worth about 100 million baht a year.

He said the company is also developing ready-to-eat meals. Each dish will be designed to fit the consumer's blood pressure, blood sugar and other health indicators. This is in response to the company's mission to bring wellness to society.

Sales of Tipco Foods were worth 4.5 billion baht in 2018, with the figures expected to increase by 5% in 2019.

Of the total, about 2 billion baht will come from fruit juice, with 1.7 billion coming from canned pineapple and the remainder from the retail business Squeeze Juice Bar by Tipco.

The company operates 40 juice bars across the country.

"Business is doing quite well because of consumers' health consciousness. We plan to rebrand the juice bar this year," Mr Ekaphol said.

The fruit juice market is estimated to be worth 12 billion baht. Market demand is flat because consumers have various alternative drinks in the market.

TIPCO shares closed yesterday on the SET at 8.25 baht, down five satang, in trade worth 1.83 million baht.

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