Oishi Group Plc is looking at producing ice cream as a new product to strengthen its food business.
Paisarn Aowstaporn, executive vice-president for Oishi food business, said that the company recently introduced Aisu, a new ice-cream brand, at Nikuya Japanese restaurants in Bangkok to test the market response.
“We’re interested in the ice cream business because the market size is big with room to grow every year due to the hot weather,” he said.
It is forecast that Thailand’s ice cream market is worth over 10 billion baht.
The expansion into the ice cream market will be part of Oishi’s plan to boost food sales to 13 billion baht by 2016, up from 7.7 billion baht expected this year.
The company will test the market for a few months before undergoing full-scale marketing and promotion activities.
Mr Paisarn said sales of Oishi’s food business in the first quarter did not grow due to political problems affecting consumer sentiment.
However, the company has seen signs of recovery since early this month although he was still not sure how long it will take for consumers’ purchasing power to recover fully.
Oishi plans to launch extra marketing campaigns to attract consumers to spend more until June.
At the same time, it will focus more on expanding its Japanese restaurants regionally.
It recently set up Oishi Myanmar Co to operate Oishi shabu restaurants in the neighbouring country. Oishi holds a 55% stake in the new Thai-Myanmar venture while 45% is held by City Food Co owned by Myanmar investors.
The first Oishi Shabushi restaurant will be opened at City Mart Building in Yangon next month and another will be launched in Mandalay in June.
“Myanmar is the first country in Asean we’ve expanded our food business into. Based on our market survey, Myanmar is ready and has huge potential for shabu business with foreign investors gradually investing over there,” Mr Paisarn said.
Several Thai food operators such as Black Canyon, Fuji Japanese restaurant and Charoen Pokphand Group’s Five Star chicken have recently opened outlets in Myanmar.
Apart from Myanmar, the company aims to set up its Shabushi restaurant chain in Singapore, Hong Kong and Laos on a franchise basis or a joint venture with local partners.
Sale figures of Oishi food business are expected to reach 7.7 billion baht this year and 13 billion baht in 2016.