Despite myriad risks, SET-listed Thai President Foods (TFMAMA), the maker of Mama instant noodles, remains committed to spending about 700 million baht to expand the business this year.
Pun Paniangvait, manager of the company's President office, said the budget will be used to expand warehouses and install new instant noodle machines at the company's factory in Lamphun province, as well as install a new production line at its factory in Rayong.
With this expansion, total production capacity from the three Mama instant noodle factories in Chon Buri, Rayong and Lamphun will increase to about 8 million packages a day from nearly 6 million.
The additional production capacity at Rayong and Lamphun will serve demand from both domestic and export markets.
According to Mr Pun, panic shopping during February and March boosted demand for Mama instant noodles, instant rice soup and rice porridge cups.
"Since February, our operations have worked three shifts every day in order to serve the demand surge," he said. "Our sales in the first quarter this year are expected to grow by 10%, up from 5% growth in the same period last year."
Thailand's instant noodle market has historically grown by an average of 5–6% a year.
The instant noodle market is estimated to be worth 15 billion baht per year. The Mama brand is easily the market leader, controlling over a 50% share, followed by Thai Preserved Food Factory's Wai Wai brand, which controls 23-24% and Ajinomoto's Yum Yum at 20-21%.
"We are uncertain whether Thailand's instant noodle market this year will see double-digit growth, but we've seen demand faring much better than earlier expected because of panic shopping," Mr Pun said.
The company does not have a plan to launch any new products in the second half to stimulate sales this year.
"We want to closely watch whether there is still real demand for instant noodles in the second half of this year if the pandemic is resolved by June," Mr Pun said. "We are temporarily postponing our plans to launch any new Mama instant noodle varieties."
TFMAMA reported consolidated revenue of 24.7 billion baht in 2019, up from 22.9 billion baht in 2018, with a net profit of 5.14 billion baht.