Japan's Daio Paper begins sanitary napkin production in Thailand

BANGKOK, NNA - Japan's Daio Paper Corp. has begun operating its first overseas manufacturing facility for sanitary napkins in Thailand to expand its market share amid tough competition with larger Japanese and U.S. rivals.

The company is planning to release its "Elis" brand sanitary pad in the Southeast Asian country in mid-August, aiming to achieve a 10 percent share in the next three years. It trails Japanese rivals Unicharm Corp. and Kao Corp. which hold shares of 50 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

"This is the first time for us to manufacture Elis sanitary napkins outside Japan. As a trial, we put imported products on sale last June and have gained good feedback," said Hiroyuki Fujita, president of local subsidiary Elleair International (Thailand) Co.

The local arm has spent 400 million baht ($12 million) to set up a new production line for the product at its factory, which currently produces diapers, in the Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong province, southeast of the capital Bankok.

About 140 million sanitary napkins are being consumed monthly in Thailand, which is dominated by Unicharm's "Sofy" and Kao's "Laurier." Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. of the United States, which markets "Modess," is in third place with a 10 percent share, according to the subsidiary.

Elleair International (Thailand) aims to capture the third rank through local production in the sector which it forecasts will grow 3 to 5 percent annually.

The local arm uses Rilakkuma, a popular bear character from Japan, for the packaging of Elis while selecting Natapohn Temirak, an actress better known by her nickname Taew, as the face of its marketing campaign. (NNA/Kyodo)