In the rapidly moving digital world, innovation and technology have an increasingly critical role in transforming the world of business. Central Food Retail Company Limited under Central Retail gives priority to product development innovation to modernize its image and address the needs of modern consumers. Thus arose the idea of a food competition seeking out innovative sustainable products, “Innovative Sustainable Food and FMCG” under the heading of “Innovation for Sustainability”. This gives business opportunities to a new generation of entrepreneurs with great potential concepts and energy, but who lack a showcase for their ideas. Projects and business plans are presented in line with one of four product categories: beauty, health, coffee beverages and pets. The award winners get to develop their products commercially and achieve rapid success in retail, with Central Food Retail as their mentor and business sponsor.
The finalist winning the top award of 100,000 baht cash is Laika, a pet food product made from natural materials. Khun Dong – Itthikorn Thepmani, the owner of Laika, said, “Previously, I was a financial analyst. The turning point which inspired me to make Laika was the opportunity to talk with staff of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). I learned from them that we were in a food crisis. So I studied the data, but I also wanted to find something meaningful to get me out of bed in the morning. I am a pet lover and I created the Laika brand, a pet food product made from natural materials, in collaboration with animal nutritionists who had direct expertise. I used only quality natural raw materials such as riceberry flour, brown rice flour and insect protein. I intended Laika to be the first pet food brand in Asia making environmental concerns a central pillar of its business operations. It gives pet owners the opportunity to choose snacks and food which is good for their pets, while also being good for the environment. Winning this top prize represents a massive leap in growth for us, as a completely unexpected business opportunity. Throughout the competition I was given many useful ideas and suggestions, and I am confident in the potential of Central Food Retail as a partner promoting Laika to grow and be better known.”
The first semi-final award worth 70,000 baht went to Minnie – Kanwara Tanachotevorapong, owner of the protein product More Meat. She commented, “I became interested to participate in Central Food Retail’s competition because we have a similar perspective in the matter of innovation, promoting small entrepreneurs and supporting communities. Central Food Retail is a large retailer with many sales outlets. The More Meat product is a protein substitute for meat which has been developed and manufactured by Thai people. It is focused on using local crops and natural ingredients, and helping farmers’ groups. For instance, we use splitgill mushrooms sourced from small farmers in Songkhla as our core ingredient. This promotes immunity and nutrition free of chemicals and flavorings which is safe for consumers’ everyday consumption. Our products have been tested by nutritionists for sodium, potassium and phosphorus levels which are safe for patients of kidney disease.”
IRA sanitary pad
Semifinal award number two, a cash price of 50,000 baht, went to Varangthip Satjathippavarn, owner of the IRA sanitary pad product. She noted, “The starting point of creating the IRA sanitary pad was my personal experience of using pads on the market and experiencing allergies. I felt that there were few alternative products on sale in the market. So the question arose, why were there no innovations in this market which was so important for women? From my research, I discovered that sanitary pads degraded into plastic. Then I thought about how many pads one woman used per day and the total over her lifetime, which was a massive number. So I studied data comparing each product on the market, and applied this data to develop our IRA brand sanitary pads. The outstanding innovation to develop this product was using 100% organic and biodegradable raw materials. Entering this contest gave me access to the opinions of expert executives who understood the precise inner needs of consumers in this market. This helped me to develop products to better meet consumers’ needs. Another dream of mine is for my products to be on sale in supermarkets with high footfall to create awareness of our brand and our products. This competition is in the right space and has helped me a lot. It is encouraging the big dreams of determined young entrepreneurs and new faces who want to develop and offer quality products.”
The good response, and the evident potential and capability of the entrants underscore that in fact, Thailand has many more smart people with a range of capabilities who need a stage to showcase the fruit of their labors. As a sponsor, Central Food Retail Company Limited plans to continue the contest with a goal to expand it further in the future, for operators who may be young, but who are bursting with ideas and potential, giving them opportunities to better display their capabilities. The hope is that all will apply innovation to potentially grow with the business, to benefit wider society and the common good.
Central Retail Corporation Public Company Limited (Central Retail) is the retail leader in Thailand and the flagship company at the roots of Central Group. It has a network of 3,831 branded stores (as of 30 June 2020) offering Multi-Category products through Multi-Format channels such as department stores, convenience stores, specialty stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, plazas and online sales through omnichannel platforms. Central Retail business covers fashion, including Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, Robinson Lifestyle Center, Supersports, Central Marketing Group (CMG) and Rinascente. Hardline comprises Thai Watsadu, Baan and Beyond, PowerBuy and Nguyen Kim. Food comprises Tops Market, Tops Daily, Tops Plaza, Central Food Hall, Family Mart, Big C/GO! and Lanchi Mart. As of 30 June 2020, Central Retail has a presence in 3 countries, comprising Thailand, with a total 1,948 stores in 54 provinces and operations in Italy and Vietnam adding another 136 outlets (as of 30 June 2020).