Otsuka Pharmaceutical localizes health drink production in Thailand

BANGKOK, NNA - Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. has switched from imports to local production for its "Pocari Sweat" isotonic drink in Thailand in response to robust sales amid growing health consciousness among consumers.

Otsuka Nutraceutical (Thailand) Co., its Thai marketing arm, saw an 80 percent surge in last year's sales of the beverage in the Southeast Asian country, Takayuki Kushida, managing director, said at a press conference in Bangkok last week.

The local unit outsourced production of the health drink to a Thai plant of Japanese packaging container manufacturer Toyo Seikan Co. in the central province of Ayutthaya earlier this year in place of imports from Otsuka's plant in Indonesia to meet swelling demand promptly.

Aiming to leverage sales of the nutraceutical drink amid growing consumer preference for such beverages in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, the Tokyo-based firm established the sales arm jointly with local consumer goods conglomerate Saha Group in May last year.

Kushida said the Thai unit also launched a slimmer and tougher 350-milliliter bottle for the Pocari Sweat brand in a bid to cash in on demand from consumers enjoying sport activities. The new bottle is likely to be introduced in other countries.

In addition to its existing sales channel of Japanese-owned supermarkets via local agents, the marketing arm has explored other distribution routes such as local supermarkets and convenience stores. Pocari Sweat sales through the 7-Eleven convenience store chain began early this month, according to Kushida.

It is planning to spend 100 million baht ($3.2 million) on a marketing campaign, including online commercials and out-of-home advertising employing Ratchawin Wongviriya, a Thai actress with a healthy image, better known by her nickname Koy, to reach a target group of consumers aged 20 to 40. (NNA/Kyodo)