Thai Union to set up operations in China, Europe for Pet Food business

by asiafoodbeverages
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Thai seafood giant, Thai Union Group (TU) is planning to grow its pet-care business via its subsidiary, i-Tail as it seeks to establish new operations in China and Europe.

i-Tail’s recent IPO which raised Bt 21.12 billion (US$608 million) will be partly injected into new businesses in China and in Utrecht, in the Netherlands. The operations however will not manufacture pet-food but will import, sell and distribute products made in Thailand.

The China operation has already been established with a capital of Rmb 10 million (US$1.4 million), while the Dutch operation requires a capital of €1 million (US$1.1 million).

Pichitchai Wongpiya, CEO of i-Tail, mentioned that China’s growing pet food industry has made it an attractive investment for i-Tail. According to latest figures from Frost & Sullivan, sales in China’s cat- and dog-food market are expected to grow steadily at 19.8% CAGR annually from 2021 to 2026. There is tremendous room for further growth in China particularly for premium pet food and private-label products as currently China accounted for only 3.2% of i-Tail’s total sales.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands operation will service a number of attractive European markets like the UK and Germany. Pichitchai said, “The UK is a large and attractive pet-food market, whereas Germany is the largest pet-food importer in Europe, with much room for further growth for our business. We also hope to expand our business in producing private-label pet food in France and the Netherlands.”

TU’s pet-product portfolio includes brands such as Marvo, Bellota, Paramount and Calico Bay.

The Thai government has also encouraged local pet food companies to expand into China. According to the Director-General for the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, “Thailand has a chance to expand its pet food market share in China, thanks to Chinese’ rising demand for pets. The value of China’s pet food market has surged from Rmb 105.80 billion (US$3.2 billion) in 2019 to Rmb 140.1 billion (US$4.24 billion) in 2022. China pet food market is dominated by foreign players with smaller domestic firms rattling to grab more market shares. Chinese consumers are increasingly looking on ‘healthy’ pet foods made from natural or organic ingredients.

TU to invest US$181 million in 2023

In a separate development, Thai Union (TU) has also pledged to invest Bt 6 billion (US$181 million) in 2023, with Bt 1 billion (US$30.2 million) to be allocated to the ongoing construction of its 2 new factories in Samut Sakhon, one will produce protein hydrolysate and collagen peptide, while the other will manufacture certain culinary products.

The company is also building a tuna cold storage facility and a wastewater treatment plant in Ghana, Africa which will be operational in 2023.

Meanwhile, TU will also allocate 80% of its investment to maintaining its existing facilities and for innovation and R&D activities.

TU aims to grow its sales revenue in 2023 by 5% from the estimated Bt 156 billion (US$4.72 billion) sales achieved in 2022.

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