Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Thailand too coconut-shy in the face of sugar?

Khun Achalee Kongrut in her article "Sugar policy has a bitter taste" makes a disturbing point in Thai agricultural policy. Should Thailand be seeking to expand its sugar production, with an extra 25 factories amidst the existing 54 sites?


Who will have such a sweet tooth? The sugar tax being developed in UK – and existing in Mexico – and being discussed in Thailand can only result in less demand for sugar.

Already Muhtar Kent (good name!) the CEO of Coca-Cola has approved increasing sugar-free soda to at least 50% of the UK products sold. And producing more sodas that are sugar-free.

Certainly a target that shouldn’t be hard to achieve especial with increasing public and Government pressure.


Surely within say 3-5 years the Thai sugar market – facing increased competition with the opening up of Cuba this summer – will be facing intolerable pressures? Cuba after all is one giant sugar plantation. And no doubt Cuba is easier and nearer for USA soda companies to source sugar from than Thailand or ASEAN?
Shouldn’t Thailand – and its ASEAN partners - be taking active steps this year to manage the market and other growth sectors?

While Khun Achalee is right to highlight the dangers of burning forest and crops – the Indonesian fires and haze a Public Health impact and source of conflict with Singapore and Malaysia. While here in London the fog and haze from burning coal rather than wood in The Great Smog of 1952 killed over 12,000 people and ushered in the Clean Air Act.

A nurse at the time described how the soot penetrated clothing and left even underwear stained black.

Washing your underpants with a coughing fit isn’t ideal.

Air pollution in general is considered the world’s most dangerous killer with 1.5M deaths and cooking fire and BBQ soot particulates under pressure to switch to cleaner energy.

And research published just today by the Organic Trade Board describes the UK as a nation of organic food lovers: 80% of Brits eat it in the last year and 65% in the last month. The top 5 products must be relevant for Thailand’s farmers and Agriculture Ministry: vegetables, eggs, fruit, milk and chicken. Although the best substitute for milk may be soya milk for Thailand? I’ve urged cooperation with Alpro soyamilk in Belgium as a part of the East Kent Benelux economic policy.

While coconut production is undergoing a boom with the Superfoods trend of healthy eating and in particular coconut water – as are pineapples and pomegranates.

The Independent newspaper reports yesterday how coconut oil is also heavily-promoted as a natural skincare product. And as a healthier alternative to saturated fats.

Even the husks can be used in the auto industry too as a filling for car seats.

A further opportunity for Thailand’s enterprising farmers across Isaan and beyond, is coconuts sold with an inclusive ring-pull as with a soda drink to more easily open it and drink the juice. Demand for coconuts is so great that the Dominican Republic cannot meet demand, while the Caribbean as a whole has seen plantations decline by 17% since 1994 as detailed by UN-FAO.

Surely as part of the new Digital Ministry overhaul, such market trends could be followed and capitalised upon along with the potential for Digital Farms?

A sweeter future for Thailand and ASEAN?

Tim Garbutt is director of Sincerity Advertising and PR agency, director of Surin Village School Charity with the first school built in Isaan and plans to build 1,000 schools each year, and is standing for MP in 2020 for better UK-Thailand and ASEAN activity. He doesn't have a sweet tooth.


Misc points:

* July Updates: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/misc-articles-updates-july-2016.html

* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Universities links and Kent-Thai orchids

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex Court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc

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