Pepsi dives into Thai mineral water market

Thailand’s mineral water market is beginning to percolate as the local unit of PepsiCo Inc., the United States-based soft drink company, unleashed its Aquafina Minerale to grab a share of the sector’s 18 percent annual growth the same week that Thai Beverage Corporation launched its own Chang Mineral Water brand.

“Bottled water is set to record a robust performance … while the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority of Thailand claims that tap water in Bangkok and its vicinity is potable, many consumers still prefer and have more trust in bottled water,’’ the Euromonitor International business website wrote earlier this year.

Thailand’s mineral water market is highly competitive, and has been valued at $110 million annually. According to the Bangkok Post newspaper, Tipco’s Aura brand is the market leader with a 50 percent market share, followed by Nestle Thai’s Minere brand at 30 percent and Mont Fleur brand with 20 percent.

“Competition among mineral water brands may peak this year as new players enter the market and existing players like Singha Corporation’s Purra and Saha Pathanapibul Plc.’s Mont Fleur brands also plan aggressive marketing activities to boost their sales this year,” the paper quoted a market analyst as saying.

PepsiCo established a local subsidiary in Thailand in 1982 and expanded into the food business in the Thai market in 1995. Its beverage lineup in Thailand consists of Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Max, Mirinda, 7-Up, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Lipton Ice tea and Aquafina. Its food menu is composed mostly of snacks such as Lay’s, Lay’s Maxx, Lay’s Stax, Sunbites, Cheetos, Doritos, Twisties, and Tawan.

Singha Corporation, brewer of Singha beer, is the market leader in bottled water, of which mineral water is a sub-market, with an 18 percent share. The first Thai company to brew beer, Singha’s strengths are its decades-long presence in the market and its extensive national distribution network.

Singha’s fierce competitor in the beer market is Chang beer produced by Thai Beverage Corporation. Now Thai Beverage is readying a challenge to Singha and PepsiCo in the mineral water segment with Chang Mineral Water. All three companies are cash rich, and so analysts expect a blistering battle to become the market leader.

“We introduced Chang mineral water in response to demand from premium consumers. The new product line will strengthen the product portfolio under the Chang brand, offering beverage choices for all occasions,” said Edmond Neo Kim Soon, chief executive of Chang International Co, the marketer of Chang mineral water.

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