Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

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Delicate authentic flavours are not enough to ensure success in the Thai fine-dining business today. Adding consciousness about sustainability is a key to level up, according to Blue Elephant, a well-known global Thai fine restaurant chain.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

Thai cuisine is popular around the world because it is marketed as the healthiest meal which the rich of herbs. Many non-Thai customers visit Thai restaurants around the world. In 2017, seven Thai dishes were named in CNN Travel’s “World’s 50 Best Foods” list, which was based on an online poll of 35,000 people.
 

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

According to statista.com, revenue in Thai food market amounts to US$65.31 billion in 2022. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.83 per cent.

Blue Elephant Group and Blue Spices Vice Managing Director Kevin Somany discusses his goals and challenges after half-inheriting this 42-year-old Thai fine-dining restaurant in an exclusive interview with The Nation in order to stay at the forefront of this competitive market.

Blue Elephant, which opened in Brussels, Belgium in 1980, was one of the first well-known Thai fine dining restaurants among foreigners.

After years of tremendous success, the Blue Elephant Restaurant and Cooking School returned to its homeland, opening in Bangkok in 2002, followed by a Phuket branch in 2010. The Blue Spice factory, the Blue Elephant group’s manufacturing arm, was then opened in 2006.

Kevin concedes that the authentic taste of genuine traditional Thai cuisine at Blue Elephant restaurants, and their other spice products, such as curry pastes, sauces and seasonings, have given them global recognition. These key elements, however, cannot be their sole unique selling points to sustain the business in the long run.

Adding more items to the menu, creating more products and more services will help, but they will not be enough to make Blue Elephant and Blue Spices any different from other Thai restaurants, he points out.

“When you come out with any new products, it has to have something unique beyond normal standards,” Kevin says, and that’s when he discovered the critical part of the sustainability factor.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

Kevin says that Blue Elephant has been concerned about people, the community, and the environment since its inception. It is the guiding principle of chef Nooror Somany Steppe and her husband, restaurant founder Karl Steppe.

Hence, all he needs to do now is make those principles visible and concrete.

That’s when he and his management team decided to go for a makeover in the packaging of all Blue Spices products, including their pastes, sauces, spices, and cooking sets in 2020.

“The change is in the very small details, you have to observe closely to see it,” says Kevin, as he demonstrates their products.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

All the cardboard used for packaging is 100 per cent from trees certified by Forest Stewardship Council, meaning the trees are harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious and economically viable.

Besides, the packaging has been redesigned to eliminate the use of plastic film coating, no more see-through windows to prevent a plastic, non-toxic water-based matted coating, and a smart lock pack to eliminate the use of glue or Polyvinyl chloride sticker.

Furthermore, the package is labelled with a new logo to certify that the improvement is in the nature of more eco-friendly packaging, Kevin points out.

“As Blue Elephant, no one doubts our quality and the authentic Thai traditional taste. However, in every change, we have to add a bit more level of delicacy that will please our customers,” Kevin noted.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

He says that the market has reacted favourably to the products. Blue Elephant sold 3.5 million units of products just before Covid. With people staying at home during the pandemic and a growing interest in Thai cuisine, it peaked at 4.6 million units, with curry pastes accounting for 70 per cent of sales.

However, he believes that a part of the reason people from other countries choose Blue Elephant is not only the savoury flavours, but also the innovative eco-friendly packaging.

According to a study on “Thai Cuisine to Global Market” by Napavarn Noparatnaraporn, an expert in biodiversity, one of the most important things that draws customers’ attention is creative and distinct packaging. Furthermore, food producers must be concerned about society, the environment, and the global food market in the near future.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

“Our biggest market is the USA, followed by Switzerland, Austria, Israel and Hong Kong. The Netherlands, despite a year-long disruption, could be added to this list as it has always been in the top 3 and is about to be back in the top 5,” says Kevin.

Kevin is currently moving forward with his plan to expand its Pathum Thani factory, where work was temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. The new factory will be twice the size of the old one and will begin production in 2024.

“The demand is growing stronger and stronger. With the factory expansion, we can increase production, manpower, and use a more sustainable method. We are in the midst of a young generation that is just stepping in. Hopefully, we will be able to continue for the next hundred years,” Kevin states.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

Blue Spices now has four main product categories: ready to cook, ready to eat, ready to heat, and ingredients.

“I think Blue Elephant is a great concept and my dream would be to have one Blue Elephant in every major city in the world. There are many places that deserve to have a Blue Elephant restaurant,” Kevin says.

Currently, there are four Blue Elephant restaurants in operation: Bangkok, Phuket, Copenhagen, and Malta. They did, however, manage to expand their Blue Spice products to 45 countries worldwide, with more new markets on the way.

In addition, they provide cooking-based curry pastes, dipping and dressing sauce to airlines, hotels, and Thai restaurants as well as Thai cooking classes.

Blue Elephant Group packages exclusivity in wrapper of sustainability

Sustainability has been a buzzword for many years as a result of the global environmental crisis. The United Nations declared climate change an emergency and urged all parties to do more to protect the environment.

The term is also thought to be a key secret to success for many businesses looking to expand and is projected to skyrocket in developing economies and emerging markets in the coming years

Fortune Business Insights found out that the global green technology and sustainability market is expected to grow from $13.76 billion in 2022 to $51.09 billion by 2029.

Published : September 03, 2022

By : Nongluck Ajanapanya

Entertainment first, the new mantra to connect with consumers: study

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“Shoppertainment” will become a key buzzword among marketers worldwide, particularly in Asia Pacific including Thailand, and will help brands generate new revenue streams as they reconnect and engage with customers through content-driven commerce, a study by TikTok and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed.

Entertainment first, the new mantra to connect with consumers: study

The study also found that shoppertainment could unlock $1 trillion (36 trillion baht) in market value for brands in Asia Pacific (APAC) by 2025. As for Thailand, shoppertainment is projected to grow from $3.4 billion in 2022 to more than $12.4 billion by 2025.

Sirini Virayasiri, head of business marketing- Thailand, TikTok said during a press conference in Bangkok on Tuesday that the purpose of this joint study is to gain an in-depth understanding of consumer shopping habits and how the brand will reach its consumers without being opposed.

“Consumer needs have evolved. Therefore, connecting with consumers through shoppertainment — with entertainment first, commerce second approach — is a must. Shoppertianment will redefine the formula of success for brands,” said Sirini.

Titled “Shoppertainment: APAC’s Trillion-Dollar Opportunity“, the report surveyed markets across six countries with high potential growth in the Asia Pacific region, including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, South Korea, and Japan.
 

It found that the immense choices afforded by technology have shaped consumers’ appetite for discovery, authenticity and community-driven recommendations, giving rise to next era of online commerce, Shoppertainment.

Shoppertainment is content-driven commerce that seeks to entertain and educate first while integrating content and community to create highly immersive shopping experiences. This presents an intriguing path for brands to revolutionise the way they engage with audiences through video-first, sound-on formats.

BCG analysis also predicted that shoppertainment will grow at a 63 per cent compound annual growth rate for markets included in the report, with the top three contributing markets in APAC being Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea, with Thailand ranking fourth.

To further understand consumers’ needs, BCG conducted in-depth ethnographic insights and quantitative research, unveiling six consumer demand spaces and dividing them into two main groups which are functional and emotional needs. 

These define what consumers desire when it comes to making a purchase, and carry important implications for future brand engagement efforts.

Sirini defined functional needs as the desire for convenience, improvement, and validation, whereas emotional needs include the desire for recommendation, indulgence, and inspiration.

Meanwhile, she added that across Thailand markets, fashion and accessories, beauty and personal care, food and beverages, and electronic devices have emerged as the largest categories for shoppertainment.

These categories account for more than half of the projected total market value for shoppertainment, and video content influences purchase decisions in 40-60 per cent of these categories, serving as a leading indicator for potential upside.

Furthermore, the top three categories to focus on shoppertainment in Thailand include fashion and accessories at 18 per cent, followed by beauty and personal care at 17 per cent, and food and beverages at 13 per cent.

Brands must also invest in creating a strong brand presence and start entertaining TikTok, as well as partnering with TikTok to drive a greater impact through innovative solutions.

Aparna Bharadwaj, managing director and partner, BCG, said shoppertainment can provide the sweet spot for brands to reignite consumers’ purchasing passions in an authentic and consumer-driven way.

“Aligning brand aspirations with consumer demand spaces, particularly at critical moments of truth when consumers are looking for new products and experiences, enables highly immersive online experiences that leave a lasting impression on consumers throughout the purchase journey,” said Aparna.

Brands can then look forward to capturing a sizeable portion of the trillion-dollar shoppertainment growth opportunity, she added.

Published : August 23, 2022

By : Nongluck Ajanapanya

New Startup chief aims to turn Thailand from tech user to tech maker

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The new president of the Thai Startup Trade Association has unveiled his mission to transform Thailand from a nation of “technology users” to one of “technology makers” that no one can ignore.

New Startup chief aims to turn Thailand from tech user to tech maker

Mickey Srisavat shared his ambitious vision and two-year mission as Thai Startup’s new leader at a press conference on Tuesday.

He said that although Thailand is well regarded for its digital infrastructure, the country lags behind neighbouring countries in terms of technology creation and development.

Mickey revealed that his mission to transform the country from a nation of tech users to makers has three elements: collaborations between start-ups, engaging various partners, and making a positive impact.
 

Working collaboratively would help boost start-ups with skills to improve their business while also connecting them to funding via venture capital.

Start-ups in their early stages needed as much support as possible to survive and flourish to become potential unicorns, he added.
 

However, recognising that his vision will not be accomplished during his presidency, he hopes to at least improve the image of Thai start-ups from low-quality to competitive excellence.

The Thai Startup Trade Association is a non-profit organisation founded in 2014 by a group of Thai tech entrepreneurs. Its purpose is to encourage Thai start-ups to grow and to create a complete ecosystem in which members can share ideas that will help the country develop a new tech industry. The association currently has 108 start-up members.

Published : August 10, 2022

By : Nongluck Ajanapanya

Bangkok named best city in Asia-Pacific for international conventions

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Bangkok topped the list of cities with the highest “harnessing ratio” in Asia-Pacific in the latest GainingEdge report on the intellectual capital of conference destinations.

Bangkok named best city in Asia-Pacific for international conventions

The consulting firm developed this “harnessing ratio” concept to help meetings and convention destinations assess how effective they are at attracting bids for summits.

The harnessing ratio analysis is based on the assumption that cities with more active leaders on the boards of international associations will bring more forums to the city.

According to the report, Bangkok has 194 local leaders active on the boards of global organisations, which has helped them draw up to 123 meetings to the capital since 2018.

This resulted in Bangkok being given a harnessing ratio of 63.4 per cent.

Bangkok was followed by Shanghai (51.7 per cent), Singapore (50.8 per cent), Taipei (45.9 per cent) and Kuala Lumpur (44.3 per cent).

Bangkok also came in at No 6 globally, after Prague (95 per cent), Dublin (81.9 per cent), Lisbon (81.8 per cent), Montreal (77.2 per cent) and Berlin (64.7 per cent).

Chiruit Isarangkun Na AyutthayaChiruit Isarangkun Na Ayutthaya

Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayutthaya, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) director, said the agency has initiated a programme to appoint local leaders or well-known experts to become convention ambassadors.

He said TCEB recently appointed convention ambassadors in the medical and robotics industries to attract meetings related to these two sectors.

He added that TCEB plans to appoint more convention ambassadors to cover other industries such as food and agriculture, which is in line with Thailand’s 4.0 policy and Bio-Circular-Green economy.

Published : August 08, 2022

By : THE NATION

Dusit Thani’s recipe to beat food crisis: Herbal, local and innovative

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Thailand’s top hospitality school is rising to the challenge of global food insecurity and rocketing prices that threaten the economy’s twin engines of food and tourism.

Dusit Thani’s recipe to beat food crisis: Herbal, local and innovative

Dusit Thani College on Saturday launched a course to equip graduates with knowledge to navigate a new food landscape shaped by Covid-19, climate change and war in Europe.


The Gastronomy Business Management MBA will lift food & beverage management to a new level in Thailand, said educators and hoteliers at Saturday’s launch event.

Siridej Donavanik, Vice President- Hotel Business Development Dusit InternationalSiridej Donavanik, Vice President- Hotel Business Development Dusit International


Siridej Donavanik, Vice President – Hotel Business Development Dusit International, surveyed the “Next Chapter of Career Opportunities in Food Industry and Business Trends”, revealing opportunities and directions for food business growth amid the Covid-19 crisis.


Siridej highlighted the global shift in consumer demands and said the food industry must adapt.”From this October, we aim to purchase organic rice and produce from local and small-scale food producers to encourage them to implement resilient agricultural practices,” he said.


Dusit International is also incorporating alternative energy as well as recycling food waste as fertiliser to grow the crops it buys.”We want to be a food producer, not just a food preparer,” said Siridej.


Meanwhile, Dusit Thani is on a mission to boost food knowledge among grassroots entrepreneurs and vendors to cultivate a sustainable food industry at all levels of society.

Dusit Thani’s recipe to beat food crisis: Herbal, local and innovative

Chef Chumpol Jangprai, CEO and founder of Thai Cuisine Academy, said healthy herbs would become a trend after the Covid-19 outbreak. He predicted Thai herbal cuisine would eventually become a global medicinal food, keeping people healthy with nutritional and healing benefits. This return to grassroots food would also help combat poverty and social injustice, he said.

Dr Wilasinee Yonwikai, dean of Dusit Thani College Graduate School, added that gastronomy business management covered not just food or what’s on the plate, but a variety of useful disciplines. The subject taps international knowledge to provide practical lessons in labour management, strategic marketing innovations and other contemporary issues.


Meanwhile, Dusit Thani’s research on sustainable food tourism was aiding innovation in the Thai food business, laying foundations for future success at the local and international levels, she said.

Published : July 23, 2022

By : Varunsuda Karunayadhaj

Is stablecoin a safe haven for Thailand’s battered crypto investors?

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The bloodbath for cryptocurrency investors – who have lost an estimated US$1.7 trillion (62 trillion baht) since October – has seen global interest swing to stablecoin as a potentially safer bet.

Is stablecoin a safe haven for Thailand’s battered crypto investors?

Stablecoin is pegged and backed by a real-world asset (usually dollars), for which it can be redeemed.

So could it be the answer for Thailand’s growing crypto market, which has been left battered and bruised by the crash?

Attempting to answer that question is USD Coin issuer Circle, which has partnered with Thai crypto exchange Bitkub to educate locals about its stablecoin.

Jeremy Allaire, founder and CEO of Circle, said the power of digital currency and blockchain will eventually take over financial services such as borrowing, lending and investing. These traditional services will eventually be offered via digital assets and crypto, he added.

“We see a very big opportunity to promote USD Coin in Thailand and Bitkub is the strongest partner to do that for us. But we have other ideas for things that we can do together in future and so this is the start of our partnership,” said Allaire.

Speaking at the MOU-signing ceremony in Bangkok yesterday, he said his company would focus first on educating and marketing to promote the use of USDC in trading and decentralised finance (DeFi).

However, Allaire sees a bigger future for USDC in Thailand.

“I think we are optimistic that this can be a long-term partnership that we are just at the start of.”

Circle has chosen Thailand as its launch point for USDC in Southeast Asia.

However, Allaire accepts plenty of education will be needed before people here understand how the stablecoin works, as well as its uses and benefits.

He adds that Thailand’s adoption of crypto is currently in the “speculation phase”.

“Now the next important phase is what I call the utility value phase. It’s when the technology becomes useful in everyday life [beyond speculation].”

As its name suggests, USDC is pegged to the US dollar.

According to Circle, the total amount of USDC in circulation as of June 30 was just over 55.5 billion (55,569,519,982). It adds that the coin is backed by reserve assets of $55.7 billion – $13.58 million in cash at US banks and $42.1 billion in US treasury bonds. Circle says this means that its customers could redeem all USDC in one day.

The digital coin is managed by a consortium called Centre, which was founded by Circle and includes members from the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and Bitcoin mining company Bitmain.

Circle has also applied to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to be listed as a public company. The commission is currently examining its application.
 

Published : July 19, 2022

By : Nongluck Ajanapanya

Krungsri’s fintech arm pumps THB3bn into Thai, foreign start-ups

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Krungsri (Bank of Ayudhya)’s fintech arm announced on Friday it will invest 3 billion baht in Thai and foreign start-ups over the next three years as part of the digital banking revolution.

Krungsri’s fintech arm pumps THB3bn into Thai, foreign start-ups

Krungsri Finnovate will invest the money via its new “Finnoverse” private equity fund, which will focus on blockchain and decentralised technology start-ups.

Sam Tanskul, managing director of Krungsri Finnovate, said the new fund’s launch was driven by the belief that banks and banking services are changing fast.

Blockchain is at the core of the trend for digital banking and assets, as the new technology that underlies secure online transactions.

Both blockchain and digital assets are fast becoming a part of people’s everyday life, Sam said.

The Finnoverse Fund has been launched as a three-year investment plan (2022-2024) worth 3 billion baht.

It will focus on key areas of blockchain technology including domestic and international funds that invest in blockchain, new decentralised finance tech, the Metaverse, Web 3.0, nonfungible tokens and play-to-earn gaming, and blockchain for businesses.

“We will focus on blockchain and decentralised technology – not cryptocurrency, where there is too much speculation,” Sam said.

The fund is already investing in Zipmex, a leading crypto exchange platform in Thailand, and ADDX, a market-investment platform from Singapore.

Sam added that Krungsri Finnovate is in talks to invest in three more start-ups, whose names will be announced later this year.

Meanwhile, the firm’s Finnoventure Private Equity Trust I now has 16 prominent start-ups under its wing, mostly in fintech and e-commerce. Two of them – Grab and Flash Express – have become unicorns.

Investors in this fund include Thai corporations and financial institutions such as PTT Oil and Retail Business (PTT OR), Siam Rajathanee, NTT Data, and the Thai Stock Exchange. Private Equity Trust I is now valued at 5 billion baht, enough to fund Thai start-ups for the next few years. So far, 326.3 million baht has been invested in the start-ups.

Published : July 15, 2022

By : Nongluck Ajanapanya

ESG strategy a must for today’s businesses, experts state at virtual forum

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Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy is starting to play an important role in how businesses are run and in people’s lives, CEOs and experts said during the virtual forum “Redefining the future of ESG in Thailand”.

ESG strategy a must for today's businesses, experts state at virtual forum

The virtual forum was organised by The Nation and Asia News Network on Thursday.

ESG key to improve citizens’ quality of life

ESG would be the key strategy to improve the life of people in the city, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said, while speaking on “The New Chapter of BMA: Make the Capital City better by using the ESG strategy”.

He explained that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is focusing on meeting the needs of all Bangkokians to tackle four challenges to the city’s development: high population density, specialised workforce, inequalities, physically separated and vulnerable citizens.

Chadchart SittipuntChadchart Sittipunt

He said the BMA is implementing ESG strategy as a part of management, health, environment, creativity and education policies.

On the environment, he said the BMA has started with the green concept, such as growing 1 million trees, doing research to eliminate air pollution and initiating the BMA net-zero plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is a very challenging target, but we have to start talking about BMA net zero otherwise the solution will not be sustainable,” he said.

On the social side, he said the BMA is focusing on improving public services to ensure that everyone will have access to quality education, good health and well being, as well as promoting equality in various aspects, such as in gender and political terms.

“I think the city has to promote equality, so it will spawn more creativity because in the future the key to driving the economy will be a creative economy,” he said.

“And if you can promote the difference in thinking and idea, we can create a better economy in the future.”

ESG strategy a must for today's businesses, experts state at virtual forum

He stressed that governance is important to gain the confidence of the people. He said the BMA is using the Traffy Fondue platform to allow citizens to submit their problems, so the agency can tackle issues effectively.

He said the BMA also will allow open data to ensure transparency in the functioning of the BMA, adding that he has a plan to randomly oversee operations across 50 Bangkok districts every Sunday

“The city is a labour market. It’s not the BMA who created the labour market, but in fact it’s the private sector, so I think a collaboration among stakeholders is very important for the future,” he added.

ESG makes businesses sustainable

Soraphol Tulayasathien, head of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)’s corporate strategy division

“Sustainability, or ESG, is a global trend. It isn’t something that’s nice to have, but it’s something that we must have and we need to do it now,” said Soraphol Tulayasathien, head of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)’s corporate strategy division.

He made the remarks during the session “SDGs and ESG matter for sustainable businesses”.

He said 24 Thai companies have been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and more than 40 companies figure in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

He added that the SET wants more Thai companies, especially micro, small- and medium-sized (MSME) companies, to adopt ESG in a meaningful way, without creating too much burden for themselves.

He said investors are paying attention to companies that are implementing ESG, both in general and specific issues, such as climate change, equality, employment and supply management.

He advised investors to invest in companies that take good care of all risks, while advising companies to use ESG as a tool to find opportunities, niche and ensure the company can maintain sustainability effectively.

“ESG is something that can help companies to manage risks because if companies don’t take care of the environment, social or governance risks, something could go wrong and backfire on the companies,” he said.

ESG strategy a must for today's businesses, experts state at virtual forum

Meanwhile, Jia Kai Goh, strategy director of consulting firm Accenture (Singapore), said sustainability can boost the value of businesses in revenue growth, cost reduction, intangible brand image and risk management.

Jia Kai Goh, strategy director of consulting firm Accenture (Singapore)Jia Kai Goh, strategy director of consulting firm Accenture (Singapore)

He added that micro- and SMEs with various potential can cooperate to achieve ESG and corporate social responsibility, as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Driving sustainability or being sustainable is value creation,” he said.

He also advised micro- and SMEs to ensure that they understand the value of their business, how to work sustainably with partners and how to tap financing to drive sustainability effectively.

“Each of the SDGs is well defined and each of them actually comes with specific indicators behind the scene, so it’s a very good time to start in terms of articulating what we are trying to drive, about perspective and how we can start our measures,” he said.

Net-zero business in action

Thanyaporn Krichtitayawuth, executive director of Global Compact Network Thailand

Many CEOs worldwide are shifting to net-zero business models as the climate crisis is outpacing them, said Thanyaporn Krichtitayawuth, executive director of Global Compact Network Thailand.

She made this remark during the session “Net Zero in Action: Reduce your carbon footprint”.

“CEOs who are not shifting to net-zero business models are putting their companies at risk,” she warned.

Citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on February 28, she said some 45 per cent of the world population — over 3.5 billion people — are classified as highly vulnerable to climate change consequences.

She also pointed out that the poorest people who are responsible for the least emissions of greenhouse gases will suffer the most because of the actions of people living in urbanised environments.

ESG strategy a must for today's businesses, experts state at virtual forum

“Some 65 per cent of CEOs globally say they have already started advancing net-zero business models and solutions. Companies with annual revenues in excess of US$1 billion are further along the journey,” she said.

She added that 78 per cent of CEOs of the largest companies in the world said they have begun advancing net-zero business models and solutions.

“Those who pollute the most must be held accountable for their actions and should protect the poorest who are being hit hardest due to their emissions,” she said.

Technology and collaboration

During the panel discussion on the subtopic “New approaches for a greener future: innovative technologies and strategies”, all panelists agreed and were aware that the ESG business model is not a trendy option but a must for companies of all sizes to sustain their growth.

They also demonstrated their companies’ progress towards greater equality in terms of environmental conservation, social inclusion, and diversity. Furthermore, they agreed that innovative technologies and strategies are critical to achieving the ESG goal.

Weerakorn Saitep, digital constructions director, The Concrete Products and Aggregate Co (SCG)Weerakorn Saitep, digital constructions director, The Concrete Products and Aggregate Co (SCG)

As one of the leading companies of Thailand with a history of more than a century of operations, Weerakorn Saitep, digital constructions director, The Concrete Products and Aggregate Co (SCG), said that sustainability was a key vision and mission that SCG prioritised. As a result, SCG has made long-term investments in ESG and provided a road map for a low-carbon economy as well as energy, water, and waste efficiency.

Piyabut Charuphen, managing director BIGPiyabut Charuphen, managing director BIG

Piyabut Charuphen, managing director of BIG, said that while the oxygen and hydrogen that the company provides do not emit any carbon dioxide, the process of producing the oxygen and hydrogen consumes a lot of electricity. As a result, it is a huge responsibility for BIG to find innovative solutions to reduce reliance on electricity generated from fossil fuels.

In doing so, he added that BIG has partnered with one of the country’s leading energy companies to provide alternative energy for them to use.

Anthony Watanabe, vice president and global head of environmental sustainability at Indorama VenturesAnthony Watanabe, vice president and global head of environmental sustainability at Indorama Ventures

Anthony Watanabe, vice president and global head of environmental sustainability at Indorama Ventures, said that the most difficult aspect of his company’s ESG journey is educating people about PET plastic, which is always blamed for environmental damage.

However, thanks to data collection and analytics technology, the company now has more than enough clear evidence to persuade people all over the world to use the right plastic, such as PET, as part of protecting the natural world.

Meanwhile, ESG is not only concerned with environmental issues, but also with social issues. Hence, all panelists shared their companies’ support for their employees and local communities, such as providing upskilling and reskilling sessions, donating products to people in need, and promoting gender equality in the workplace.

In conclusion, Weerankorn, Piyabut, and Anthony agreed that more collaboration with the government sector is required to achieve ESG together. It is also necessary to provide some assistance to SME entrepreneurs.

ESG is the new business opportunity

Marco Toscano-Rivalta, chief of the regional office for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

During a panel discussion on the subtopic of “ESG in restoring global economic health”, Marco Toscano-Rivalta, chief of the regional office for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), stated that the world is currently facing enormous and mounting human, environmental, social, and economic losses due to disasters.

And ESG is critical to allowing the private and public sectors to move forward in a safe and sustainable manner.

Apinya Siranart, head of exploration, UN Development ProgramApinya Siranart, head of exploration, UN Development Program

Apinya Siranart, head of exploration, UN Development Program, suggested that using ESG as a term to persuade companies to take this path is insufficient. It would be preferable to use the term SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) instead, as this term would make the change, and the impact of this concept would bring more clarity to their businesses.

SDG does have some costs, but if a company follows this path, they will discover some new opportunities for their business that will provide some great returns in the future, Apinya added.

Cosima Stahr, senior adviser and co-lead finance, Adelphi ResearchCosima Stahr, senior adviser and co-lead finance, Adelphi Research

Cosima Stahr, senior adviser and co-lead finance, Adelphi Research, pointed out that ESG is a critical framework for knowing how to allocate budget and overcome current constraints.

When a company recognises its pain points and realises the value of its business, it will finally understand how to integrate long-term financial investments to create a more sustainable environment and equitable society, she added.

All the panelists also agreed that finance and investment are critical for a company to achieve ESG or SDG. The agenda is now a critical factor for many joint venture firms and global investors to consider when managing their capital.

While there is enormous capital available for investment, it is unfortunate that there are fewer companies that can clearly explain their ESG roadmap and benefits to convince the investors.

Marco suggested that the government issue strong regulations to compel companies to develop ESG strategies and action plans that they can publicly disclose.

He also stated that businesses must reconcile the concept and practice of ESG with the economy and disasters. This will assist the company in making the correct decision.

Apinya insisted that public awareness was still required for ESG to be widely adopted. She stated that doing business in the future must demonstrate how the company can have a positive impact on society and the environment.

ESG strategy a must for today's businesses, experts state at virtual forum

She added that ESG investment is not a burden on the company, but rather will assist the company in identifying and unlocking a new way of doing business.

Cosima concluded that while global companies must now prioritise economic recovery, ESG should be included in their business plans as long-term strategies. This will be critical in identifying the right innovation for the company to sustain its growth and in assisting them in understanding the international dynamic.

Published : July 08, 2022

By : THE NATION

Household debt is a time bomb, warns Palang Pracharath’s Narumon

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https://www.nationthailand.com/business/40017170


Household debt is a ticking time bomb for Thailand’s economy and everyone must tackle the problem urgently, Palang Pracharath accountant Narumon Pinyosinwat said on Wednesday.

Household debt is a time bomb, warns Palang Pracharath’s Narumon

She pointed out that Thailand’s household debt to gross domestic product has risen to 90.1 per cent, the 12th highest among 70 countries worldwide and the second most in Asia.

The country’s debt service ratio has hit 34 per cent, she warned.

“This proves household debt is obstructing consumption and economic recovery instead of stimulating consumption,” she said.

Narumon said the Bank of Thailand’s move to raise the interest rate to 0.75 per cent coupled with the high cost of living would cause household debt to increase and affect the repayment potential.

She advised lenders to pay attention to the debt repayment potential of borrowers as household debt came from banks, savings cooperatives, hire purchase and leasing firms, as well as loan sharks.

“Lenders must grant loans responsibly and not just concentrate on interests or collateral value,” she advised.

Many borrowers don’t fully understand the interest mechanism until they suffer from debt burden or even lose their homes, Narumon said.

Borrowers must possess basic financial literacy and be able to draw up easy repayment/financial plans on how much they can borrow, so they will not suffer from an overwhelming debt burden in the future, she said.

The government shouldn’t use state banks to grant loans with low interest rates as this would encourage households to borrow more money.

“The government would gain political benefits in the short term, but it will cause trouble for citizens and the economy in the long term,” she said.

Government and private sectors must cooperate to boost public income, Narumon said.

She also advised the honing of skills among 10 per cent of labourers in the agriculture sector before moving them to industries, which would enable the workers to generate more income.

“Meanwhile, government and private sectors must come out with innovations to boost agriculture sector revenue,” she said.

“Most importantly, they must develop worker skills to meet labour market demand.”

There are many ways to tackle informal and household debt, including debt restructuring, Narumon added.

“Everyone must help combat household debt together before it’s too late,” she warned.

Published : June 29, 2022

By : THE NATION

Vast range of skills needed to survive in post-Covid era, says TDRI

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https://www.nationthailand.com/business/40017049


The demand for personnel in digital, care and green industries has surged thanks to the role creative economy is playing in the post-Covid era, the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) said on Sunday.

Vast range of skills needed to survive in post-Covid era, says TDRI

The creative economy is an evolving concept that builds on the interplay between human creativity, ideas, intellectual property, knowledge and technology.

TDRI director Dr Saowaruj Rattanakhamfu said creative economy played an important role in stimulating the economy, generating revenue and creating well-paying jobs.

She said the demand for workers in the digital economy, such as artificial intelligence specialists, data scientists and big data developers is rising and businesses are ready to offer high salaries for them.

“For instance, the monthly salary of a social media assistant starts at between 25,000 and 28,000 baht,” she said.

Saowaruj also said that a variety of skills and knowledge are necessary for some jobs in the digital economy industry. For instance, digital marketing specialists need to be literate in marketing, data analysis, website design and English, she said.

“If we want to develop a creative economy, we have to pay attention to training personnel for this field,” she said.

Meanwhile, in the care industry, Saowaruj said personnel like behavioural health technicians, physical therapist aides and personal care aides are playing a key role in helping people maintain their physical and mental health in the post-Covid era.

These positions too, she said, require a variety of skills and qualifications. For instance, musical therapists need knowledge in music, psychology and basic IT literacy, she said.

Similarly, personnel in the green economy, such as green marketers and sustainability specialists, also require additional skills, such as knowledge of environmental materials, laws and basic IT literacy.

“In the post-Covid era, deep knowledge in one subject is not enough. People need to integrate their know-how and be able to address different issues to survive in the new era,” she added.

Published : June 26, 2022

By : THE NATION