Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceutical aims for higher sales of its Pocari Sweat electrolyte drink in Thailand through the setting up of a local subsidiary with effect from 1 August.
Takayuki Kushida, Managing Director of Otsuka Nutraceutical (Thailand), the Thai subsidiary, said that the company will consider setting up a manufacturing facility for Pocari Sweat in Thailand once sales of the product reached 50 million bottles a year. This volume is expected to be achieved within 10 years, and the factory will be responsible for the production of Pocari Sweat for the domestic market as well as for export to potential markets in ASEAN.
"After Japan and South Korea, Thailand is the 3rd most trusted country by consumers in neighbouring countries, such as Myanmar and Cambodia, for the production of high-quality products,” said Tayuki.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical (Japan) owns 90% of the Thai subsidiary, which has Bt 300 million (US$9 million) in registered capital. Thai Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd holds a 5% stake, and Saha Pattana Inter Holding Plc and Saha Pathanapibul Plc each owns 2.5%.
Thailand is now the 3rd country in ASEAN where the company operates its beverage business through owned subsidiaries; Indonesia and Vietnam are the other two. The company also has a factory for Pocari Sweat in Indonesia that has been awarded Halal food certification. The output is exported mainly to Arab markets. Pocari Sweat is available through local distributors in Cambodia and Myanmar.
Pocari Sweat has been in the Thai market for 19 years, and is ranked as the 2nd largest sport drink brand in Japan. “Thai consumers have become increasingly health conscious, and that’s why we have seen a greater potential to market Pocari Sweat by our owned subsidiary, so that we will be able to create marketing activities proactively and directly to consumers,” said Kushida, adding that the company expects to boost the sales of Pocari Sweat in Thailand by about 30% this year.
Pocari Sweat products will be distributed domestically by 2 main distributors – Saha Pathanapibul and Kobe-Ya Shokuhin Kogyo Co Ltd. Saha Pathanapibul will be in charge of distributing Pocari Sweat through local supermarkets and other retail outlets, while Kobe-ya will handle mainly the Japanese supermarket chains.
Kushida said the electrolyte supplement drink market in Thailand is valued at Bt 2.17 billion (US$65.3 million).