Malee’s sights now firmly set on Bt10-bn in annual sales

SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2016

MALEE GROUP is well on track in its challenging goal of doubling annual sales to Bt10 billion by the end of 2018, said its chief operating officer, Roongchat Boonyarat.

Since revisiting its business model a few years ago, Malee, a leading Thai manufacturer and distributor of canned fruit, fruit juice and other beverages, has striven to focus on its three key pillars: partners, people and “do more with less”.
Roongchat said the firm spent had much of the recent period on its “house-fixing” mission, and now expected to achieve higher growth in the years to come.
After booking sales of Bt5.4 billion last year, Malee reported 20-per-cent growth in the first quarter of this year, with same level of growth also targeted for the whole year, she said.
According to market research firm Nielsen, the Thai juice market has started to pick up, with consumption growing by 5 per cent from June 2015 to June this year, reaching Bt14 billion.
The premium-juice segment expanded by 6 per cent year on year, totalling Bt5 billion during the same period.
In the premium 100-per-cent juice segment, Tipco is still No1, although its market share slid to 29 per cent from 39 per cent a year ago.
Malee is in second place, with its share edging up from 21 per cent to 22 per cent.
“Our target for this year is to keep our market share from falling,” she said.
Industry sources said top premium-juice brands such as Tipco and Unif had lost much market share to smaller players that focused on healthy juices.
They cited Doikham, which was strong on tomato juice and increased its share from 15 per cent to 18 per cent, and newcomer Cocomax, which grew from zero through a single product – coconut juice – to achieve an 8-per-cent share.
In regard to overseas business, Roongchat said Malee, which kicked off its “partner” strategy by forming a joint venture, Monde Malee Beverage Corp (MMBC), in the Philippines late last year, was keeping a lookout for opportunities to establish more partnerships in other Asean countries.
“It could be a joint venture, just a partnership, or getting [buying] into existing companies,” she said, adding that some progress could be known by the year’s end.
Malee is focusing on five key markets – the Philippines, China, Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia – where it is keen to build a substantial business presence.
“We have altered our business model from merely exporting, to focus on building a Malee 2, Malee 3, in these countries,” the chief operating officer added.
According to Malee’s presentation to investors at the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s “Opportunity Day” on May 18, it targets MMBC achieving the same size as the parent firm’s domestic business in the next three years.
Malee has also refocused its export markets, reducing the number to 25 countries, from 40 previously. Its export sales had grown to 34.3 per cent of the total sales in the first quarter, up from 20.8 per cent last year.

Banking on its new differentiation through product origin strategy, Malee yesterday introduced three new product variants, comprising of the Sukhothai tangerine orange juice 100%, Nang Lae pineapple mixed juice, and mulberry mixed juice. 

Now trailing just one per centage point behind the market leader, Malee targets to conquer the leadership in the premium orange juice segment this year. It currently has 49 per cent share versus Tipco’s 50 per cent in the 100% orange juice segment, worth Bt1 billion.
“This is a product differentiation with authentic actions,” said Roongchat, explaining that consumers will know the sources of  their juices while appreciate the importance of farmers.
The firm plans to spend Bt200 million on this “The Caring Message” campaign which includes the redesign of packaging to look more natural and telling stories of the fruits’ origins.