In conversation with
In conversation with Mr Winai Teawsomboonkij
CEO | Thaifoods Group Public Company Limited
FDI Spotlight: In your own words what is the identity of Thaifoods Group and how has it changed during the years?
Mr. Winai Teawsomboonkij: Everything started 25 years ago when I owned my own small chicken farm. Since then I have tried to create a business that is profitable and sustainable by focusing on three pillars: feed, farm and food. My experience as a farmer has allowed me to combine a corporate mind set with the understanding and work ethic of agricultural skills.
We integrate the entire value chain by implementing our own partner/contract model. In this respect, we support the domestic production of corn, together with 5 other companies in the country. We have partnered with 370 chicken farms and 300 swine farms that are providing us the necessary material every day in the morning. Due to the unreliability of constantly using fresh produce for our livestock, we have started to tap into the processed food industry in order to move up the value chain. This strategy of integrating the value chain has helped us grow and overcome challenges when we have come to them.
Is now the time for foreign investors to be looking at Thailand’s agribusiness sector?
Mr. Winai Teawsomboonkij: Yes, right now is the correct time for foreign investors to use Thailand as a manufacturing base for agricultural and livestock products. Even though Thailand is coming out of a difficult time, the GDP of the country is getting better this year and there is a huge amount of potential. Thailand has a large capacity to further expand in the agribusiness sector. Furthermore, we have a limited capacity to consume these products we are producing and need to tap into the export market and become as efficient as possible. We welcome foreign investors doing business in this sector. What do you think is the role that the agriculture sector has to play in the new model of Thailand, the value added next generation of Thailand?
Mr. Winai Teawsomboonkij: We have already implemented horizontal integration into the areas of feed and farming and now we want to develop the business vertically. By always working with the highest standard of equipment, we will always be moving up the value chain. Right now we are in discussions with a potential partner, who is currently visiting our factory in Kanchanaburi, to create a co-production arrangement. We want to take a systematic approach so that the relevant experts, technology and investment can come together and help us upgrade the vertical aspect of each of our three pillars: food, feed and farm. Our chicken processing facility is already updated in terms of production quality and we have the necessary international certificates required. Essentially we have everything in place and all we need now is a good strategic partner to bring the innovation, synergy, and technology to our distribution channel. We always strive to have the latest technology and therefore we want to work with partners to complement and supplement our production; partners that can help us be more efficient and up-to-date. Because once you serve good quality the market will continue to narrow. Thaifoods Group can grow locally up to a certain limit before we need to expand further internationally. This year will be busier than the last one and the best way to capitalize on this is through the AEC.
You mentioned that you want to help the farmers. Considering that you were one of them, how do you intend to inspire and give back to the community in order to help develop the nation?
Mr. Winai Teawsomboonkij: Yes, I was on the other side taking care of my chicken farm. This the reason why I understand how important it is to work as a team and develop the business together. We always welcome partners who come in and give us direction and show us where the next area of opportunity is. Even if we are a high standard factory, I do invest in people and their knowledge so that we can grow together and develop the business as a team. We provide scholarships to our management staff as well as recruiting young talent from local universities. Thaifoods Group is not just a business. It is a corporate community working together with local people and educational institutions to support the whole economy.