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NRF plans to lead global specialty food industry

May 30. 2019
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By The Nation

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Sustainability, health benefits, and global food tastes are the key drivers to the worldwide food trends for 2019, according to the Specialty Food Association.

 The group said in a press release on Thursday that specialty foods are  “unique and high-value food items made in small quantities from high-quality ingredients”. 

The popularity of specialty foods fuel interests from both retailers and consumers, becoming one of the fastest growing segments in the specialty food business with US$140.3 billion (Bt4.4 trillion) record sales in 2018 within the US market alone, the association said.

It’s a revolutionising business, and an exciting one for the Thailand-based food manufacturing powerhouse NR Instant Produce as they announced their ambitious plans to take leadership role in global Specialty foods industry.

NR Instant Produce (NRF), the leading purveyor of Asian ethnic flavors for almost three decades, originated from a humble beginning as a manufacturing and distribution shop-house factory in 1991. By 1996, NRF initiated market entry exports to the U.S.A, followed by a major export drive to the UK in 2001, then launching its own OEM brand, Por Kwan, in export markets targeting Asian ethnics in the US and Europe. 

The company was already on its path to success – becoming one of the first manufacturers to receiving an BRC Accreditation, signing Woolworth’s as their first private label customer, and at last, achieving its first Bt1 billion turnover in 2011.

NRF’s brand leadership in the ethnic oriental supermarkets and position as Europe’s leading supermarket co-packer caught the interests of Hatton Capital Limited. 

Danai Pathomvanich, Managing Partner of Hatton Capital, has been investing in the food industry for the past decade and recently completed half a billion dollars in acquisition to date.

Danai acquired NR Instant Produce in April 2017 determined to elevate and transform the Thai-bred manufacturer NRF into a global player with a thriving new executive direction. NRF main product categories consist of ethnic oriental foods, plant-based foods, seasoning, recipe, RTE, beverage, and better for you foods and ingredients.

Danai said:“Today’s millennials are the largest consumer segment and enforcing the key trends within the global food industry, particularly driving the demands for high quality, specialty foods that they’re willing to pay more for. Thailand needs to move beyond commoditized products and into niche, higher value or quality products that are relevant to today’s millennials. Some prominent brands that fail to stay relevant are finding their market share will get quickly eroded, while some global MNC’s have already started to move into specialty or craft products via acquisitions or investments.” 

He added: “I believe NRF has a unique opportunity to take a global leadership role as a producer of oriental foods from Southeast Asia and build Thailand as a food production hub for the specialty foods category, considered the fastest growing ethnic food segments in the world.”NRF remains laser-focused on playing a pivotal role in elevating the standards of food manufacturing, transforming farming techniques, sourcing, producing, and the way they feed the world. 

“With this new direction the company prepared its rebranding process, starting with changing its corporate logo NR to the current NRF (an abbreviation for Nature Regenerative Foods). NRF stands symbolised for the company to take care of farmers, producers, and the earth in order for it to feed the world – a telling sign of sustainability at the core of its business.”

Unveiling their ambitious plan, Danai proudly explains NRF’s latest sustainability program.

The manufacturing giant has invested resources and capital in a national cooperation between Thailand’s leading wholesale markets and the Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University to elevate Thai farming and techniques to internationally standards, encouraging ‘safe foods’ quality produce. What’s their ultimate goal? To improve the livelihood of Thai farmers.

“Thailand has already lost billions of dollars in lost opportunities due to compliance standards in OECD countries such as pesticide residue. The implementation of the process has been excruciating, however I believe by transforming the way we farm, both NRF and the country could recover lost market opportunities. We need to improve our food production system now, so Thailand and our local farmers will not be left behind as the global food market races to its peak,” added Danai.

NRF continues to make sustainable food experiences enjoyable while raising the quality of life for their stakeholders, making the world sustainable one SKU at a time. Given its status as a leading manufacturer in co-packing and private label OEM, NRF is exporting to more than 25 countries with over 3,000+ SKUs, consisting of 100+ brands within 9 categories, with products already present in ethnic supermarkets major countries around the world.

NRF aims to penetrate the Thai local market with main categories; seasoning, vegetarian foods, and healthy foods. It also boasts its aggressive plan to move forward to development sustainable production together with local farmers to improve their livelihoods.

In determination to raise Thailand’s specialty food industry to meet international standards and position Thailand as a manufacturing hub, NRF sets a goal to generate cumulative revenue of NRF and its subsidiaries of more than Bt10 billion for over the next 5 years. So far, the 2017 annual sales revenue was Bt1.087 billion, within 2018 was Bt1.120 billion, with expected generated sales in 2019 of over Bt1.377 billion – an increase of 23 per cent.

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