In conversation with
Mr. Joseph Suchaovanich
MD | Bangkok Ranch Public Co., Ltd.
FDI Spotlight: What do you consider to be the identity of the Bangkok Ranch (BR) group and how has it changed to become fully integrated into the manufacture sector?
Mr. Joseph Suchaovanich: The company was established in 1984 by my father, and began by focusing on the textile industry. As we all know, not only is duck used in the food industry, but also the feathers are used for bedroom garments such as pillows and comforters as well as the lining for winter jackets.
Like many families from Hong Kong, my parents decided to move abroad, and Thailand much like today, was considered to be the beating heart of South East Asia. In the last 30 years the business has evolved and grown from primarily selling feathers for the textile industry to becoming a fully integrated producer and distributor for the food industry. Even though it was always our intention to develop the business to become more profitable, we also realised the importance of creating a sustainable business that also benefits the local community and society. Furthermore our full integration from farm to fork has greatly improved our hygiene and safety, efficiency and competitiveness in the market. The combination of our in depth understanding of the industry, our international network and integrated value chain has led our company to be the first in our industry to export to Hong Kong, Japan and Europe from Thailand.
How has the trend changed in your supplier relationships?
Mr. Joseph Suchaovanich: Prior to the bird flu crisis, there were many contract micro farmers who we used to work with and help to grow commercial stock. However at that time of crisis, many of the small suppliers did not have the capability or know how to ensure that their stock was safe to use and consume. Despite that it was a challenging time for us, as was the case for everybody in the poultry industry, the fact that our facilities were already at international standards for hygiene and safety meant that we could weather the storm, consolidate and grow again. Since then we have helped our farmers and partners to band together to enable economies of scale and transfer of knowledge to be able to overcome big macro challenges.
The idea now is that we encourage our suppliers (contract farms) to work together as a cooperative focusing on producing the best products. Furthermore we have recognised that in order for our suppliers to be producing and supplying us with the best quality produce, they must have modern, innovative facilities and processes such as evaporative duck houses in order to achieve this, and that requires funding. It is often said that access to finance is the number one barrier holding back micro and SMEs from growth. With this in mind we provide long term contracts to our partners for financial institutions so that we stand behind them and allow them to grow and prosper.
What are the challenges and opportunities you see with the recent inauguration of the AEC?
Mr. Joseph Suchaovanich: Many commentators have said that the AEC is going to become the EU of the east. In some respects, of course we would all benefit from that level of integration and development as experienced in Europe, however there are also lessons from the EU that we can learn so as not to allow similar problems to occur in the AEC. It is also worth pointing out that despite our geographical proximity to our regional neighbours, there is a lot of cultural diversity here and so the AEC should not be looked upon as one homogenous population. I am personally looking forward to the continued development of this region and I believe that Thailand is prepared for it.
We intend to use this opportunity to expand our businesses. The beauty of our duck products is that they are consumed in every country in this region, so the market potential is significant. One of the biggest challenges that we face though is legislative barriers in the agricultural industry within the AEC. Due to the fact that many of our neighbouring countries have followed a very similar economic development path to Thailand, moving from an agricultural based economy to a manufacturing based economy, many agricultural industries are still being protected by local governments’ laws, non-tariff barriers and bureaucracy. We would like to see greater trade liberalisation to allow further partnerships in the region.
Considering my family’s Hong Kong heritage, our operations in Thailand and The Netherlands as well as our global customer base, we are well positioned for our progression in the international market place.
How do you think Thailand compares to other countries in terms of its agricultural quality?
Mr. Joseph Suchaovanich: In my opinion, Thai agricultural products are number 1 in the world. Our standards are world class and natural resources unparalleled.
At BR Group we maintain the highest standards of safety and hygiene. As I previously mentioned, this was demonstrated during the bird flu crisis in 2004. While many businesses had to cease their operations, we took it as an opportunity to show the world class standard of hygiene we have, and continued to export our products without any issues.
How are you committed to help in the development of Thai and Indonesian people, and also in the economic development of the region?
Mr. Joseph Suchaovanich: Every cooperation must generate a profit in order to grow and evolve. Thailand is very strong in its agriculture business, there are years of experience and expertise. We try to take this and channel it into the products we produce.
One of our main priorities is to always consider how we can benefit the local people and community. The best way we can do this is to ensure all of our products are safe and hygienic, and as a result of this our consumers are healthy. We will never cheat people and say that the food is healthy when it is not. We never add any special chemicals or hormones to the products. All of our ducks are raised on the best raw materials (grain and crop) and provided with a very good quality of life.
We believe that good products will lead to loyal and trusting customers that will continue to buy from you in the future. We try to ensure that the customers always feel good about our products and want to continue consuming them and looking at us as a trusted partner.