Thai Company Taps Growth in Natural Cosmetics

HighBeam Research

Title: Thai Company Taps Growth in Natural Cosmetics.

Date: September 30, 2002 Publication: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

By Phusadee Arunmas, Bangkok Post, Thailand Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Sep. 30–Despite the ups and downs of the economy, many local beauty and health-care businesses have proved to be largely recession-proof in recent years, demonstrating that Thai women are showing no reluctance to spend money on beauty products.

Among the most successful companies to tap this consumer trend has been Bio Pure Co, which decided to enter the business just after the financial crisis struck in 1997.

“While the property sector collapsed, beauty and health-care businesses were growing, and continue to grow,” said Sasita Trakunchavalit, product manager of Bio Pure.

The founder of Bio Pure, property developer Sontirat Sonthijiravongs of Right Move Co, decided to concentrate on the beauty business after the 1997 crash.

Ms Sasita said the economic collapse encouraged Thai people to be more self-sufficient and turned them to natural products. The development of local herbal products has flourished in recent years.

One product, kwao krua (pueraria mirifica), which is a cream used by women worldwide to enlarge their breasts, is proving highly successful.

“The success of kwao krua has prompted us to use natural products as our main ingredients. We believe breast enlargement cream has a big market, especially for women in Asia,” she said.

Ms Sasita said within five years, the product had become popular in Hong Kong, Japan, China, and Singapore with average sales of three million baht a month.

She said pueraria breast cream was categorised as a natural cosmetic and it was also becoming popular in Korea, where the company introduced the product at the beginning of this year.

Ms Sasita said the Korean market had potential for growth and local manufacturers were focusing on producing make-up with attractive packaging, rather than health-care products.

The breast cream from Bio Pure is the first from Thailand to be passed by Korea’s Food and Drug Administration, largely because the company has been awarded certificates for Good Manufacturing Practice, ISO 9002 and 14001.

The company’s two factories employ about 100 workers producing about 30 health-care products such as home spa aromatherapy, natural cosmetics, herbal products and health foods such as pueraria tablets and diet supplement capsules.

Bio Pure also produces under licence a skin-care cream for clinics nationwide, and breast cream for a Singaporean firm.

Asia is its major export market and the company is also working to develop products for Europe. Bio Pure earns about 2-3 million baht a month from local sales.

Ms Sasita said the government should give more information to the public about pueraria. The private sector also wanted the endorsement of the product by Food and Drug Administrations.

“The reluctance [of authorities] to certify the product has deterred the development of pueraria products,” she said.

She added that the FDA in many countries, including Korea, had certified the plant as helpful in enlarging breasts.

Surasak Ruangkrul, minister counsellor (commercial) to Seoul, said it took almost eight months for his office, working with Thai exporters and Korean importers, to gain approval for the import of Bio Pure beauty cream.

The company received its first order, worth about $300,000 for the products to be delivered in staged shipments.

Korea still has tough restrictions on the import of several categories of products.

But Thailand’s trade officials are continuing to work with the Korean government to gain access for Thai medical products into the market.

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(c) 2002, Bangkok Post, Thailand. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News

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