PMUC champions Thailand’s “Food Industry of the Future”

On 6 December 2022 : The High-value Food Subcommittee, PMUC, organized a meeting EXPERT FORUM NOVEL FOOD “Food Industry of the Future: Promote Business with Research” at BALLROOM 1, 4th floor, Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit.

Assoc. Prof. Siree Chaiseri, director, Ph.D., of PMUC, explained about the objective of PMUC as an organization that provides research funding for research projects, which can be further commercialized, i.e. research conducted at the laboratory level that can be extended to production and ultimately to product registration. This is an example of the work of the High-value Food Subcommittee, which has experts in various fields performing assessment of the “high value” quality of each research project, and whether it is research that takes advantage of our nation’s biodiversity, combined with advanced technology to create high-value products that are unique. Similarly, the Health and Medicine Program at PMUC has provided research funding to promote the medical industry with advanced technology in many projects. Whether it is a drug, biological object, or various medical devices, PMUC would like to see the development of high-value food products from a variety of raw materials available in the country, which leverage the knowledge base and innovations developed by Thai people. Although at this time the main emphasis is on providing funding at the initial stage in enhancing the country’s competitiveness, PMUC will continue to focus on pushing for the practical application of research, as well as encouraging cooperation between the public and private sectors, to promote collaboration to increase the country’s ability to compete at the international level.

Dr. Thanyawat Kasemsuwan, director of the Innovation Group, Thai Union Group Public Co., Ltd, presented a lecture on Guidelines for Novel Food Research Development, discussing the perspective of the private sector on food research and development, stating that “in the past, the evolution of food research started with the production of food for consumption, reducing famine (Food Supply), then later extended into research and development to increase the safety for consumption (Food Security). Then came the development of flavorful food (Food Pleasure), thus dealing with research and development in the area of flavor-enhancing ingredients. Subsequently followed the period of food development for health (Health Promotion), which brought on research on nutrition and the benefits of various aspects of food. Finally, at present time, the direction of food development has begun to turn towards food that has specific benefits for individuals (Health Management), so we see sensory research to analyze consumer needs in more detail. It can be seen that the innovative development framework of the private sector mainly focuses on the consumer. And from the perspective of a large food producer like Thai Union food production and development must focus on the consumer as well. We must produce products that yield the lowest production costs for the best results to be more satisfactory to customers. As well, branding, interaction with consumers, market positioning are all also important.”

Breakthrough Innovation can dramatically change the price structure for higher value products.

Dr. Thanyawat gave an example of a leapfrog innovation (Breakthrough Innovation) stating that, in the past, half of canned fish products was sold as fishmeal, which has very low intrinsic value. But today, Thai Union can produce protein hydrolyzates, fish oil or collagen, creating higher value for food.

Insect protein is another interesting novel food innovation of today. Dr. Thanyawat described Thai Union’s joint investment with an Israeli startup, owner of an innovative technology to produce protein from fruit flies, which can provide up to 65% protein while having a short life cycle: as short as 7 days. The production of protein from fruit flies is very cost-effective, and at this time, a factory has been established in Thailand. But at the same time the company also faces challenges in novel food production, including thorough research on all aspects of the consumers, which is the heart of product development, as well as production cost study, clinical testing to safety testing in order to obtain registration and certification from the FDA. The process will take at least 4 years and result in a fairly high investment, so manufacturers and entrepreneurs should give importance to this matter.

At the event, there was a discussion on the topic “Setting the direction for the Food Industry of the Future with Thai Future Food Trade Association” by inviting up-and-coming Thai start-ups, who are successful in producing Novel Food products, to share information and experiences of entering the Food of the Future startup business, as well as sharing opinions and suggestions on trade guidelines, distribution, including business directions and off-shore trading, with Assoc. Prof. Natdanai Hankarnsujarit, Ph.D., head of liaison of the High-value Food Program, PMUC , and chairman of the Integrated Strategy for Food of the Future, TSRI, serving as moderator.

Startup businesses who participated in the seminar included:

  • Mr. Sathaporn Ngam-Ukos, Thandee Inno Food Co., Ltd. Producer of starch-free egg-white noodle products.
  • Mr. Kulcha Sarasyanan, FW Inter Trading Co., Ltd., producer of ready-to-drink coconut powder products.
  • Mr. Thanapoom Muangiam, The Bricket Co., Ltd., producer of cricket protein Products
  • Mr. Kantapong Thanachotworapong, More Foods Innotech Co., Ltd., producer of artificial meat products.
  • Mr. Sirichet Jirapongwattana, Siam Consumer Products Co., Ltd., producer of plant-based seafood products.
  • Mr. Wipoo Lertsurapibul Meat Avatar Co., Ltd., producer of artificial meat products.

If interested, the recorded session can be viewed on official Facebook page of PMUC.

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