Fruit juice producers demand revision of sugar tax

Representatives from the Thai Beverage Industry Association together with Doi Kham Food Products Co, the well-known producer of Doi Kham fruit juice, are slated to meet the Excise Department to demand for revision to the existing sugar consumption tax, which they claimed to have hurt the fruit juice industry.
Pipatpong Israsena, Doi Kham's President and Chief Executive claimed that overall sales in the fruit juice industry have drastically dropped since the enforcement of the excise tax on sugary drinks in September.
Pipatpong said, “Since September, sales of Doi Kham have dropped by 40% and we expect sales of only Bt 2 billion (US$60.74 million) this year, down from our projection of 2.1-2.2 billion (US$63.8 million – US$66.8 million ).”
Pipatpong said he and the association will stress to the Excise Department that the tax should only be for sugar added to fruit juice, not on natural sugars inherent in fruit. Pipatpong added, “It is a widely known fact that there is high natural sugar content in tropical fruits and we cannot make lychee and longan juices without sugar.”
He insisted that the sugar consumption tax should not follow similar standards imposed in Western countries as Thailand is tropical and the fruits here are sweeter than Western fruits. He also commented that campaigns focusing on the negative side of sugar consumption made consumers unnecessarily panicked.
Despite the concerns, Doi Kham Food Products will continue with its expansion plan, and recently it has signed a partnership with Coca-Cola System, the trademark owner of Coca-Cola and Minute Maid ready-to-drink (RTD) juice, and ThaiNamthip Limited, the local bottler of Coca-Cola drink in Thailand, to launch new Minute Maid variants using tomato and passion fruit from Doi Kham.
Coca-Cola has recently launched Minute Maid's tomato juice with orange pulp and passion fruit flavoured with honey and lime to the Thai market.
According to the Nielsen Retail Index, Thailand's RTD juice market is worth approximately Bt 12 billion (US$364.4 million), with Minute Maid controling 11.5% share of the market.