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Thai Union Hopes To Boost Domestic Demand For Sealect Tuna Thailand, June 20, 13

Consumer demand in Thailand for canned fish in the first half of 2013 is expected to be flat, as consumers have set aside money for other goods, particularly cars under the first-time buyer scheme.

Wichai Iamsangchan, managing director of T-Holding Co, the distributor and marketer of Sealect canned fish, said until last month, demand had been flat since the second half of last year compared with average annual growth of 3-5% in recent years.

The slowdown in canned fish demand is on a par with that of other grocery items, he said.

In 2012, the overall market value of Thai canned fish was 6.2 billion baht.

The Sealect brand leads in the canned tuna category. T-Holding is a unit of Thai Union Frozen Products, the country's biggest canned- and frozen-seafood maker.

A company survey showed that more customers are buying ingredients to cook at home. T-Holding expects sales of Sealect canned fish to show growth in the first half but at a lower rate than earlier projected.

Mr. Wichai expressed confidence that sales will achieve 15-20% growth to 2.1 billion baht this year thanks to proactive marketing in the second half.

The company plans to spend 50 million baht to promote new recipes made from canned sardines and mackerels.

The promotion runs from July through October and is aimed at encouraging Thais to eat more fish.

With the new recipes, T-Holding hopes to boost demand for Sealect products in the second half and raise consumption of canned fish among Thais, doubling sales to 4 billion baht by 2017.