Gulfood 2018

Middle East markets catching on to coconut water craze: Gulfood award winner

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

Thai Coco won “Best Soft Beverage” in Gulfood Innovation Awards 2018 for its Blanc Coco range of 100% Sparkling Coconut Water ©Gulfood2018
Thai Coco won “Best Soft Beverage” in Gulfood Innovation Awards 2018 for its Blanc Coco range of 100% Sparkling Coconut Water ©Gulfood2018

Related tags: United arab emirates, Asia

Thai Coco says demand for coconut water and other coconut-based products is growing in the Middle East, with supermarkets increasingly listing new products, and consumer awareness on the rise.

Globally, coconut water has been one of the most on-trend products for the past couple of years.

Thai Coco, which won the “Best Soft Beverage” category in the Gulfood Innovation Awards 2018 for its premium Blanc Coco range of 100% Sparkling Coconut Water, said it was healthy that more brands were now entering the Middle East market to boost the category overall.

Brand marketing manager of Thai Coco Itthipol Khumpaeng said: “If only our coconut water brand is displayed on the shelves, it does not create a demand. But once every corner displays different brands of the product, this creates a demand. People are aware of a product trend, and (feel) they have to try.”

“Sales are going to pick up this year. Big players like Vita Coco are already in the market.

“They come with marketing campaigns and invest in publicity (in the media). This will alert consumers in the market about coconut drink products.”

Different formulation for Middle East

Due to growing concerns about sugar content in beverages in relation to health, Thai Coco has formulated all its products using stevia as a sugar-substitute.

However, Khumpaeng said many Middle East consumers prefer sweeter products, so they have a dedicated formulation for the region.

“We have to because this is requested by the importers. The importers and distributors know the demand from the retailers and the supply chain,”​ he said.

Khumpaeng said almost all of Thai Coco’s products have been certified halal by the Islamic Committee Office of Thailand, and are kosher as well.

In the UAE, Thai Coco’s products are already carried by importer and supermarket chain Choithrams.

For the Middle East markets, Khumpaeng said the company hopes to promote its entire range of coconut products, from its coconut snacks and chips to its new line of Blanco Coco 100% Sparkling Coconut Water.

World’s first sparkling coconut water

According to the company, its award-winning 100% Sparkling Coconut Water is the world’s first sparkling coconut water.

Conceptualised by the company’s internal R&D division, it is 100% pure coconut water that is carbonated, with no added sugar.

“Not only is it sparkling, it is healthy as well,” ​said Khumpaeng.

The new product is positioned in the premium category.

“A five star hotel will not serve you a cola welcome drink, but it can serve you Blanc Coco,”​ he said.

In Malaysia, Japanese restaurants have already started carrying the product

More innovative products soon

That’s far from the end of Thai Coco’s R&D work, as Khumpaeng said the company tries to be the leader in coconut food manufacturing in the world.

“The R&D department will create new products every year. This is part of our branding strategy for our brand partners,”​ he said.

The new products developed will be in accordance with market trends.

Thai Coco will next launch new products in May at Thaifex in Bangkok.

“Our sales has jumped a lot in the past four years of business since we established our brand, because we are in the trends business. That is why we are able to be listed in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET),” ​he said.

Thai Coco employs about 1,000 people in its entire operation. More than 30 countries carry its products, while the company also does OEM work for clients in more than 50 countries.

In 2017, Thai Coco’s turnover was almost US$100m, 90% of which was from its export business.

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