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  2006 Jan Issue
   
Cover Story
Central redefines food retailing in the region
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Retail outlook: The year ahead
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IHHS’ new expo to provide buyers with more focused sourcing
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Thailand launches campaign to promote premium rice brand to the world
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Technology for the future


 




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Thailand launches campaign to promote premium rice brand to the world

 



THAILAND’S Ministry of Commerce has recently launched a strategic marketing plan to establish local rice brand Thai Hom Mali Rice as a world market leader.

The official launch of the marketing campaign, held at the InterContinental Hotel Ballroom I in Bangkok, was attended by rice importers, leaders in rice-related businesses and diplomats from across the globe.

Being of the long-grain aromatic strain has earned the Thai Hom Mali Rice its status as Thailand’s premiumquality, fragrant white rice. Grown only in 19 provinces in north-eastern Thailand, the grain is famed for being hand-planted and rain-fed.

The campaign aims to promote the awareness of and appreciation for the rice through strategic alliances, including with national carrier Thai Airways International, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Restaurants Association, Thai Hotels Association and the Department of Export Promotion. The objective is to win over tourists by allowing them opportunities to savour the Thai Hom Mali Rice.

“This is the first time [Thailand] is launching a global, comprehensive campaign,” said Rachine Pot Janasuntorn, directorgeneral of the department of foreign trade in the Ministry of Commerce, at a press conference. “We are tying up with strategic partners to reach the global market.”

As part of the campaign, the Ministry of Commerce has introduced measures for quality control over the entire riceproduction process to ensure the best quality. This is a recognition programme for rice mills producing high-standard rice. It involves workshops to assist and encourage local entrepreneurs to develop private brands and create corporate identities, focusing on packaging, labelling and branding that are applicable for legal protection in the world market.

Another part of the campaign is to work closely with retailers and restaurants worldwide, Rachine told RETAIL ASIA.

Working with retailers is an integral part of the campaign as they have the closest contact with the consumer, who buys the rice from them, he said.

“We have in-store promotions with large supermarket chains all around the world,” he said. These included NTUC FairPrice in Singapore, Tesco Lotus in China and Safeway in the US.

In the ‘Thai Kitchen to the World’ initiative, the ministry is also working closely with restaurants overseas to serve Thai Hom Mali Rice in a bid to increase public awareness of the brand and to create loyal customers out of them.

However, the cost of the rice is almost twice that of regular jasmine rice. According to Rachine, each tonne of normal white rice costs US$290, while the Thai Hom Mali Rice costs US$450. He attributed the price difference to the superior quality of the rice, and the fact that the strain yields only one crop a year.

The higher price should not concern retailers too much, said Dr Turhand Doerga, president of the Alesie group management, because of the rising trend of consumers willing to pay more for quality produce with health benefits.

“The Thai Hom Mali Rice is healthy because it is rain-fed — that means it is grown without, or with an insignificant amount of, fertiliser. You could say it is almost organically grown, not genetically modified and truly nurtured by nature,” he said.

“Consumers are more knowledgeable about foods; they will purchase foods linked to disease prevention and longevity.”

The Thai Ministry of Commerce has also released export figures for the Thai Hom Mali Rice. From January- October 2005, 136,933 tonnes were exported to China, 173,310 tonnes to Hong Kong, 100,237 tonnes to Singapore and 84,253 tonnes to Malaysia.

The country’s total export of the Thai Hom Mali Rice from January to November last year stood at 1.9 million tonnes, or 29.8% of overall rice exports. With the campaign in place, the ministry expects this number to grow to 2.4 million tonnes this year.

 


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