Thailand is an important agricultural product exporter to China, as well as an important destination for Chinese pesticide exports. Recently, Chirat Prahuangwong, President of Sotus, the largest agricultural material distributor in Thailand, presented a report, titled, ″How to operate patented new compound in Thailand,″ at the China Pesticide Exporting Workshop (2023 CPEW). The report explained the methods for launching new compounds in the Thai market, and provided some relevant information to Chinese pesticide manufacturers wishing to explore Thailand’s market.
Chirat Prathuangwong, President of Sotus International, Thailand
Sotus International Co., Ltd., was founded in 1996, being one of the leading agrochemical companies in Thailand, in which Mitsui Chemical AGRO Co., Ltd., owns a number of shares. Sotus is engaged in the importation, formulation, distribution and exportation of high-quality crop protection products, fertilizers and plant hormones, and possesses production workshops, research laboratories, formulation plants and warehousing facilities. For many years, Sotus has gained the trust and support of leading multinationals with its high-quality products and services, acting as a distributor of a number of high-quality premium products from multinationals in Thailand, therefore, serving Thai farmers.
Thai pesticide industry developing rapidly, market value of durian skyrockets
Thailand is a traditional agricultural country, where agriculture plays a key role in its economic development. Thailand’s agricultural land accounts for 47% of total area, with rice making up 43.7% of crops produced, followed by other crops such as rubber, sugarcane and corn. Due to the huge demand for pesticides, agricultural production has been a strong driver of pesticide development in Thailand. From the supply side perspective, the Thai pesticide market still relies on imports, and China is the largest source. According to a relevant report, Thailand has imported large amounts of agrochemicals in recent years. In 2021 and 2022, Thailand’s total imports of agrochemicals reached 136,100 tons and 113,600 tons, respectively.
The top 10 herbicides imported in Thailand in 2022 were glufosinate, glyphosate isopropylamine salt/TG, butachlor, 2,4-D dimethylamine salt, diuron, ametryn, atrazine, 2,4-D sodium salt, propanil and bispyribac-sodium. Glyphosate and glufosinate are the two leading herbicides in Thailand, imports of which total 20,100 tons and 19,900 tons, respectively.
2022 Top 10 Herbicide Imports in Thailand
In terms of fungicides, the top 10 imported products in Thailand in 2022 were difenoconazole, propineb, propiconazole, phosethyl-al, mancozeb, pyraclostrobin, difenoconazole+azoxystrobin, carbendazim, azoxystrobin and dimethomorph. Among them, propineb headed the list with 3,600 tons, while ancozeb and carbendazim were the two most widely imported fungicides.
2022 Top 10 Fungicide Imports in Thailand
In terms of insecticides, the top 10 imported products in Thailand in 2022 were emamectin benzoate, abamectin, imidacloprid, cypermethrin, omethoate, thiamethoxam, fipronil, indoxacarb, profenofos and carbaryl. Among them, abamectin, emamectin benzoate and carbosulfan were the leading imported insecticides.
2022 Top 10 Insecticide Imports in Thailand
In the Thai market, the demand for pesticide depends on crops. Pesticide applications in Thailand are mainly done on grains, with fungicides and herbicides being the two major categories of pesticides for application. In Thailand, herbicides are mainly applied on field crops, such as rice, sugarcane and cassava, while fungicides and insecticides are concentrated on cash crops, such as fruits and vegetables.
In addition, the planting area and market value of durian in Thailand have increased over the past decade. In 2022, the planting area, yield, ex-works price and output value of durian in Thailand increased by 105%, 120%, 156% and 462%, respectively, over 10 years. During this period, Sotus seized available market opportunities and launched novel solutions, including pesticides, fertilizers and plant nutrients covering all stages of the growth of durian. With this effort, more and more products have gradually entered the terminal market.
Outcomes from Sotus’ two flagship products
Cooperation with leading suppliers is key to success
In recent years, Sotus has sought strategic cooperation with renowned multinationals to introduce high-quality products to serve the Thai market, having gained rich experiences in the terminal market launch of new products. It has also collaborated with globally renowned pesticide companies to introduce advanced technologies and products and provide technical support, establishing a solid foundation for the commercial success of these products in the Thai market. Among them, Corteva, the manufacturer of spinetoram, is a leading global agrotechnical giant while Mitsui Chemicals, the manufacturer of dinotefuran, is a famous agricultural chemical enterprise in Japan.
Sotus has two flagship products, which are dinotefuran and spinetoram. Dinotefuran is a third-generation neonicotinoid insecticide developed by Mitsui Chemicals, which offers the advantages of having high insecticidal activity and being fast acting and highly safe. Since neonicotinoid insecticides are banned in the European Union (EU), Mitsui Chemicals is making the effort to develop and promote dinotefuran, which could become a promising product. Spinetoram is a macrolide antibiotic insecticide developed by Dow AgroSciences, now known as Corteva. Its mechanism of action is similar to spinosad’s, but its activity is 10 times higher, being mainly used to control lepidoptera, such as diamondback moth, beet armyworm and thrips.
Development of innovative products with local characteristics
Sotus not only introduces leading products from world-renowned agrochemical enterprises, but it also invests in research and development, in cooperation with its partners, to develop innovative products that meet market demand and consider local crop growing conditions in Thailand. For example, Sotus has collaborated with Mitsui Chemicals in the development of various dinotefuran formulations, which can better meet the production needs of different crops, such as rice and vegetables, indicating that it is important to develop marketable products based on formulas that match local requirements.
Sotus has developed different application scenarios to cover various crops in Thailand, having successfully developed dinotefuran and spinetoram as its flagship products, which are applied to crops, fruits and vegetables in central Thailand.
In 2003, Sotus launched its dinotefuran-based formulation product, Starkle 10% WP, which is used to control rice brown planthopper. In 2004, the application of Starkle 10% WP was extended to fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. In 2007, Sotus launched Starkle 1% GR for application on rice and ornamental plants. In 2008, Starkle 10% SL was launched for vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants. In 2009 to 2010, a brown planthopper disaster broke out in Thailand, enabling Sotus’ sale of dinotefuran-based formulations to surpass more than 300 metric tons. In 2012, Tenju 20% SG was launched. In 2021, Yari 70% WG was granted registration. In 2023, the application of Starkle 1% GR was extended to durian, with sales exceeding 800 metric tons. Sotus’ spinetoram-based products mainly include spinetoram 12.5% W/V SC, which has the trade name, Exalt, and is widely used on crops, including vegetables, fruit trees, ornamental plants and rice.
Brand promotion via various marketing tactics
Sotus employs hundreds of agricultural professionals who safeguard the company’s product research, development and promotion. In the meantime, Sotus has adopted diverse measures to promote its flagship products, such as circulating product brochures, organizing dealer and farmer gatherings, arranging product field observations, and holding large-scale exhibitions and promotional activities to publicize its products through various promotional channels, such as radio, TV, the internet and agricultural magazines.
Taking dinotefuran as an example, the company has come up with the idea of ″1R for 4P″ which is the main tactic for the market promotion of the product.
Right Product：Hosting the dinotefuran-oriented ″product concert.″
Right Price：A concert that encourages customers to purchase dinotefuran products. The more you buy, the more you get.
Right Place：Suphanburi concert in Thailand – A targeted destination with the highest sales of dinotefuran-based products.
Right Promotion：Concert by a famous singer dedicated to specific customers. An effective marketing tool for the sustainable sales of dinotefuran products.
Sotus’ cooperation with suppliers and distributors inspires Chinese enterprises
Sotus has close relationships with suppliers and distributors, having established a solid foundation for long-term cooperation, which has played a key role in its commercial success, and offering the following inspirations for Chinese enterprises:
Long-term stable cooperation with suppliers
Around 80% of the company’s suppliers are long-term cooperation partners for more than 20 years, providing Sotus with high-quality products and dedicated support.
Establishment of exclusive cooperation with large regional distributors
On the one hand, Sotus has cooperated with large distributors in major provinces in Thailand to gain exclusive distribution rights in local regions, therefore, significantly increasing its market share. On the other hand, Sotus has established broad distribution channels, with over 3,000 distributors, resellers and key farms in major Thai provinces, where 80% of agricultural chemical distributors are selling Sotus’ products.
Regular events being held to strengthen cooperation with partners
Sotus holds regular anniversary celebrations both online and offline, with the participation of suppliers and distributors, to strengthen its cooperation with partners.
Other experiences to help Chinese companies access Thai market
For many years, Sotus has grown into one of Thailand’s leading agrochemical companies, due to its high-quality products, excellent services and diverse marketing strategies. In terms of product layout, Sotus focuses on the innovation and development of efficient and environment-friendly pesticides that are good for sale. In terms of market development, Sotus cooperates with large Thai and international enterprises through joint ventures, introducing technologies and other methods to quickly obtain market share. In terms of partnerships, Sotus establishes long-term and solid partnerships with large regional distributors. In terms of team building, Sotus has built a professional marketing and technical team. In terms of strategic marketing, Sotus adjusts its strategies according to local conditions and drafts marketing plans both online and offline according to the needs of users in different regions, in order to enhance its brand influence.
Today, the attractiveness of the Thai pesticide market is increasing. As Thailand’s largest source of imported pesticides, more and more Chinese companies are exploring opportunities to access the Thai market. Given the successful operations of Sotus in Thailand based on innovative and patented products, such as dinotefuran, Chinese companies can draw on Sotus’ successful experiences while utilizing its first presence advantage in the supply chain and advantage in terms of volume to access the Thai market, backed up by these advantages. In the years ahead, more Chinese pesticide brands are expected to access the Thai market, which will benefit local farmers.
The data and content in the above articles are edited from the expert’s speech of 2023 CPEW conference.
Click to view: 2023CPEW
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