Gulfood 2018

Thai juice firm Malee branches into functional condiments as part of health drive

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Malee hopes its new premium Vintico Coconut Vinegar will help overcome slower growth in its main fruit juice segment.
Malee hopes its new premium Vintico Coconut Vinegar will help overcome slower growth in its main fruit juice segment.

Related tags Nutrition

Beverage company Malee is to launch its first condiment — Vintico Coconut Vinegar — in Thailand in April as it seeks to diversify into premium health and functional food products.

The product will be launched through subsidiary Malee Applied Sciences Co Ltd, and it is hoped that it will help the firm overcome slower growth in its main fruit juice market segment.

Malee is still in the process of searching for distributors to bring its new premium product to other countries and regions.

Each bottle of premium Vintico Coconut Vinegar sells for US$50.

Health-driven focus

Last July, the Malee Group signalled its intent to become a “health-driven global F&B firm”​ by investing 1b baht in restructuring its business.

This heralded the formation of Malee Applied Sciences to work on research and development in its own laboratory, as well as to set up an innovation centre for product development.

According to Sarayut Thulhikorn, senior business development manager of Malee Applied Sciences, the development process for Vintico Coconut Vinegar took about six months.

“Vintico Coconut Vinegar is the first major step in our development of more healthy products,”​ he told us at the Gulfood show in Dubai.

The company further states that proprietary processes in its fermentation technology under special conditions, such as curing using oak barrels, leads to the premium taste of natural vinegar as well as conveys various health benefits.

Vintico Coconut Vinegar’s health benefits are said to include helping the body to regulate blood sugar level and lowering cholesterol and triglyceride; promoting digestive health and detoxifying the body from accumulated toxins; as a potent antioxidant, helping cells to rejuvenate themselves; supporting weight management; and boosting the immune system which helps the body to fight invasive elements.

Free-from growing bigger

From the consumer standpoint, healthier products are certainly the way to go, according to market trends.

Thulhikorn said the “free-from” category and low sugar products were in demand, especially in light of the country’s phased introduction of a sugar tax.

 “We realise that if we focus on [more healthy products], we will generate income for the country, and for the company as well,”​ he said.

“Malee Applied Science wants to be the leader in terms of innovative products, and to introduce more of them to market.”

Middle East market

Thulhikorn said the Middle East provided big opportunities for Malee due to its significant juice market. However, he said consumers in the region would need to be educated about the benefits of coconut vinegar.

Last month we reported that Malee Group acquired Vietnam beverage firm​ Long Quan Safe Food Joint Stock Company in January to boost its production and sales in Asean.

Malee also has cereal drinks and dairy products under the Chokchai Farm brand as well as a presence in the snacks category through its acquisitions and joint ventures.

In Asia, more than 10 countries carry Malee products, including Japan, China, Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

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