$10-million factory slated for next year
Mr Clendon (right) and Mr Apirag at the shareholders' meeting in Bangkok yesterday.SOMCHAI POOMLARD
The SET-listed Univanich Palm Oil Plc (UVAN), Thailand's largest palm oil producer and crude palm oil exporter, is making inroads in the Philippines for its first expansion into Asean.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding with its Philippine partner, Carmen Palm Oil Mill and Development Corporation, to build a palm oil crushing mill in southern Philippines'North Cotabato province.
The new US$10-million factory is projected to be completed in next year's second quarter and will be the first of its kind in the province.
"Like many other Thai companies,we are excited by the approaching single market under the Asean Economic Community, as it offers great growth prospects and business benefits," said chairman Apirag Vanich after the shareholders'meeting yesterday.
Thailand is the world's third-largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia and Malaysia, with production expected to exceed 2 million tonnes this year with a total plantation area of 4 million rai.
"Based on our research and dialogue with local partners, we're confident our palm oil success story in southern Thailand will be replicated in the Philippines,"said Mr Apirag.
Univanich also studied investment opportunities in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, but no definite plans have been made, he added.
Managing director John Clendon said the company expects to create its own network of palm oil plantations in the Mindanao island group, where coconut farmers will convert to palm oil.
The Univanich Oil Palm Research Centre in Krabi province has already exported more than 1 million hybrid oil palm seeds to Philippine growers in recent years.
The crushing mill will have an initial processing volume of 30 tonnes of fresh fruit bunches per hour, rising to 60 tonnes as the industry develops, said Mr Clendon.
Univanich will also develop its fourth plant in Thailand next year and has bought land in Phatthalung for a fifth factory. Its three Krabi factories have a combined capacity of 150 tonnes per hour.
Located in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, the fourth plant costs 350 million baht and will come onstream late next year with a capacity of 30-45 tonnes an hour, he said.
The company has already expanded to biogas and embarked into tissue culture technology, which has much higher yields than palm oil seeds. The tissue culture project is expected to be commercially viable in three or four years.
Last year, the company achieved revenue of 6.37 billion baht, down by 17.8%from 2011 due mainly to lower sales volume and lower palm oil prices.
Net profit shrunk by 23.7% to 979 million baht on lower seasonal production and lower palm oil prices.
Shares of UVAN closed yesterday on the SET at 124 baht, up 14, in trade worth 22.7 million baht.
1 May 2013