Doi Kham Food Products Co, the manufacturer and distributor of Doi Kham fruit juice and dried fruit, has shifted its focus towards herbal drinks and tomato processing as consumption of fruit juice has consecutively decreased over a period of between 4-5 years.
Chanannat Polpathapee, the company's executive vice-president of sales and marketing, said the global market for fruit juice has been saturated for several years while mounting concern over sugar among Thai consumers has lead the country's overall fruit juice industry to drop by an average of 10% per year over the past 4-5 years.
The market value of Thailand's fruit juice industry is estimated at 7.4 billion baht at present, a significant drop from 18 billion baht recorded six years ago.
According to Nielsen, a market research firm, the country's fruit juice market contracted by 4.8% in terms of value from April 2020 to March 2021, while it contracted by 10.1% in 2020 from 2019.
"Fruit juice has been replaced by functional drinks as more people take food as their medicine and herbal drinks saw rapid popularity among consumers during the pandemic," Ms Chanannat said.
Pipatpong Israsena Na Ayudhya, Doi Kham's president and chief executive, said the company therefore decided to launch Doi Kham herbal drink and honey products in the market last year with Doi Kham finger root extract with honey and lime and Doi Kham triphala extract drink added to the company's product portfolio during March and April of this year, respectively.
"People drink herbal beverages to prevent Covid-19," she said. "Demand for herbal drinks taking place based on fear is unlikely to be sustained, so we are closely monitoring consumer behaviour."
According to Ms Chanannat, the herbal drink business now contributes about 10% to the firm's total sales, with the proportion expected to double to 20% in three years.
"Sales from Doi Kham's business grew by 10% last year to 1.8 billion baht despite the ongoing pandemic. Herbal drinks and tomatoes are our growth engine. We are all set to expand processed tomato products to the market. If people think of tomatoes, we want Doi Kham to be their top-of-mind brand," Mr Pipatpong said.
The firm is aiming to increase Doi Kham's overall sales to 2 billion baht this year from 1.8 billion last year.
In addition, Doi Kham aims to put its efforts into developing processed tomato products for the market, including ready-to-cook products which are set to launch next year.
The company has also joined hands with 12 partners in various business sectors from the government and private sectors, including Ampolfood Group, the producer of Chaokoh coconut milk, and Major Cineplex Group Plc, the largest operator of movie theatres. It has teamed up with the Government Pharmaceutical Organization as well as Tetra Pak, the world's leading food processing and packaging solutions firm. Doi Kham's partnership with King Mongkut's Institute Technology Ladkrabang is focused on waste management.
"Thais have yet to pay much concern to the environment so far, but we are committed to moving further with our partners to create a better impact on the circular economy," Mr Pipatpong said.