Glico partners with Thai seaweed product maker

BANGKOK, NNA - A new seaweed-flavored biscuit stick hit the Thai market this month as the first product released under a partnership between major players in the Japanese and Thai food manufacturing industries.

Pretz Taokaenoi is the inaugural offering by Thai Glico Co., a confectionary subsidiary of Japan's Ezaki Glico Co., under its first "marketing synergy" deal with Thailand's largest seasoned seaweed manufacturer, Taokaenoi Food & Marketing PCL.

"Glico has spent a year working together with Taokaenoi to create the new product by mutually sharing raw materials and innovation," Thai Glico Deputy General Manager Kritsada Nurukkhe said Tuesday, adding that the co-branding partnership, billed as the first case of teaming up with a local snack food company, is aimed to buoy the slow-moving Thai snack market rather than seeking profits.

According to the company's press release, snack consumption in Thailand has been sluggish for two to three years with a single-digit growth rate, slower than in the past when it normally grew by double-digit percentages. Its growth in the first nine months of this year was only 2 to 3 percent due to the country's slumping economic activity, thus requiring a new product launch to boost the market.

Ittipat Peeradechapan, chief executive officer of Taokaenoi, a seaweed snack leader with a 61 percent market share, said the partnership with Thai Glico will also benefit the two companies in arousing consumer interest and expanding both customer bases as Pretz generally targets buyers younger than 30, while Taokaenoi's market ranges from children to the elderly, including foreign tourists, especially Chinese.

"Nori" seaweed flavor Pretz Taokaenoi, launched this month with a price of 15 baht (about 42 U.S. cents), is scheduled to sell as a limited edition for three months, and is expected to generate sales revenue of 32 million baht ($900,000).

The new snack is set to be available nationwide via distribution channels of the two companies such as convenient stores, supermarkets, traditional retail stores and also seven branches of Taokaenoi Land, the souvenir shop which is popular among foreign tourists.

Currently, Thai Glico is a market leader possessing 20 percent of Thailand's biscuit market worth 11 billion baht. The company aims for 3 billion baht in sales revenue this year, up 15 percent from last year, and plans to launch another new product, dubbed "healthy chocolate," in the Thai market this year-end to serve growing consumer demand for health-oriented products. (NNA/Kyodo)