Promoting Thai herbs: Organisations join forces as regulators pledge to fast-track approvals
The Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department and the country’s Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion, have signed an agreement aimed at promoting Thai herbal products to more markets.
At the signing ceremony, Thailand’s deputy prime minister and health minister Anutin Chanvirakul, reiterated the country’s commitment to promote Thai herbal products.
He said that between 2016 and 2018, the economic value created by Thai herbs had increased from THB$180bn (USD$5bn) to THB$280bn (USD$9bn). The export value of Thai herb reached THB$2.24bn (USD$72m) last year, with turmeric as the most popular herb.
With phrase one of Thai Herbal Development coming to an end in 2021, the country aims to grow the economic value of Thai herbs to THB$360bn (USD$11bn). Hence, there is a need to push Thai herbal products into more markets.
The Thai FDA will also play a part by expediting the registration of health products. A safe, non-toxic product could be approved in a day, while a product with toxic substances would be rejected in as soon as an hour.
To drive recognition, the country organises contests such as the Prime Minister Herbal Awards (PMHA), Premium Products, and Quality Thai Herbal Products (QTHP) awards.
Last year, the country’s National Science and Technology Development Agency and private firms, such as Biopharm, also signed an agreement to develop a globally accepted standard for Thai herbs with proven health benefits.
One of the ways to promote Thai herbal products, is to position it as a souvenir to tourists visiting the country.
Attractive product packaging is thus a key element to drive sales.
Thailand’s travel retailer, King Power, will distribute Thai herbal products in the airports to reach out to the tourists.
Anutin also urged the domestic consumers to support local brands, instead of “being obsessed with brand names”, local media Thai PBS reported.
Overseas, Thai herbal medicines are also available via e-commerce. According to Alibaba’s website, about 681 Thai herbal medicines are available on its e-commerce site.
Preference for natural
According to a research conducted by Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence Center, dietary supplements and functional foods that are made with herbs and natural extracts are highly preferred by Thai consumers.
However, the report noted that there was a limited variety of natural supplements in the Thai market, and suggested the need for new product development and research in this area.