Snack hits shelves despite turmoil

By David Porter

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Peter Tinholt says Thai unrest hasn't impacted the launch of a new snack product.
Peter Tinholt says Thai unrest hasn't impacted the launch of a new snack product.

Tauranga-based Taura Natural Ingredients has completed the first phase of the launch of its new bagged snack product in 700 7-Eleven convenience stores across Thailand, despite the political unrest in the Southeast Asian nation.

"The unrest hasn't really affected the launch," said Taura general manager Peter Tinholt.

"But it's all gone a bit slower than we would have liked," he added, saying that was a result of the way business was sometimes done in Thailand and had nothing to do with the political problems.

Taura announced last November during a trade mission led by Prime Minister John Key that it had reached an agreement with Thai company Joe-Ry Family to launch the new snack product, Wel-B Fruit Bites (see sidebar).

The snack is 100 per cent manufactured in New Zealand and packaged and distributed in Thailand by Joe-Ry Family.

"We're in 700 stores and we're hoping to get it into all 7000 7-Elevens in Thailand," said Mr Tinholt.

Although there was some discretion as to what the stores stocked, there was a core range controlled by Joe-Ry's distribution network.

Taura sales manager Grant Taylor was in Thailand and the company would have a better gauge on the progress of the new snack once he returned, said Mr Tinholt.

The continuing political unrest in Thailand reached a new crisis point last month with the ouster by the army of the Government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Although the army has said the latest move is not a military coup most commentators have concluded that it is, making it the 12th coup in Thailand since 1932.

Thailand's ongoing unrest reflects the clash between forces supportive of and backed by the ousted Thai Prime Minister's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former Prime Minister and telecom billionaire now living in exile.

Thaksin's reforms a decade ago triggered a rift between the largely rural north and the urban middle and upper-class elites.

Mr Tinholt accompanied the trade mission last November and said he had been briefed then by former local Thai politicians that the unrest was "just the Thai way" as they struggled to determine the best governing system for the country.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise North Island customer director Lionel Crawley said that while he didn't have detailed information on the current Thai situation, he had recently been in contact with the trade commissioner to Thailand, and understood there had been no impact on New Zealand trade.

"I have not heard of any negative impact on exporters in this region," said Mr Crawley.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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