Capital Diamond Star Group to bring coffee mix to American shelves through venture


The brand name has been changed to Ideal Tastes, but the product will be similar to the popular Myanmar brand Premier, according to Lim Chong Chong, chief financial officer for Capital Diamond Star Group, a large local company.

Branding on the package of the instant coffee will be in English, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean.

“It’s very targeted in the US market in terms of population demographics,” said Mr Lim.

He added the product has received approval from America’s Food and Drug Administration. There is a local partner lined up, and exports are to be done in the next three to six months.

The move to begin exports comes as Capital Diamond Star teams up with Japanese giant Mitsubishi Corporation in a new food products venture. The firm, called Lluvia, was announced early last week, though many of the details were not released until April 2.

The partners claim they will invest US$200 million in new money over the next three years in the new firm. Mitsubishi will hold up to 30 percent of the venture, with Capital Diamond Star owning the rest.

Capital Diamond Star is headed by Myanmar entrepreneur U Ko Ko Gyi, a businessperson with Mandalay roots. The firm was founded in the 1960s as a trading business, and has since branded into other businesses, including retail with Capital Hypermart and Grab and Go convenience stores, automotive with Ford, and other businesses such as construction and microfinance.

Some of its existing assets in the food business will part of the new Lluvia venture, including its wheat flour, coffee and distribution businesses. The Lluvia venture also aims to expand into businesses such as non-dairy creamer, UHT milk production, rice milling, packaging, cold chain logistics, ports and a bakery school.

Speaking at a press conference on April 2, Mr Lim said Lluvia aims to have a regional footprint.
“We definitely intend to make Premier a regional brand,” he said. “We also intend to make some of the other brands into regional brands.”

The firm also owns Diamond Star flour, which it claims has about 55pc market share domestically.

It is looking at a number of options for exports, including its Ideal Tastes brand to the United States, as well as other opportunities in Southeast Asia and the rest of the continent.

Mitsubishi Corporation Myanmar team leader Gen Murakami said his company sees huge potential in Myanmar’s food industry.

“You’re very close to the food source, ingredients, raw materials,” he said. “On the other hand if we look to the market, most of the food products, processed products especially, are still imported.”
Mr Murakami added that if more investment, technological transfer and upgrades can occur, the future will be bright for the domestic food industry.

Mitsubishi Corporation also has partnerships with Serge Pun-chaired businesses, including in Thilawa and Mandalay airport. Mr Murakami said the Lluvia venture will focus on food and food-related businesses, adding Capital Diamond Star Group (CDSG) is the best partner in Myanmar to team up with.

“The strength of CDSG in the food business in Myanmar already, having everything from agriculture-related businesses all the way downstream to retail, is something we think we can work together to expand,” he told The Myanmar Times.

Asked about a potential listing on the Yangon Stock Exchange or a regional market by Lluvia or CDSG, Mr Lim said the firm is keeping its options open.

“So we are not saying no to the capital markets, whether it’s domestic or international, but it’s not something we’re actively seeking,” he said.

Mr Lim said he is now focused on growing the business and on building up its fundamentals.

“When you have good governance, your finance partners will feel comfortable working with you. For us, it’s about building the fundamentals of the business. That’s our number one priority,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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