19/07/2023 – CP Foods / CEO / THAIFEX / Thailand / Sustainability
Q&A: CP Foods boss highlights innovations for people and planet
The CEO of CP Foods, Thailand’s agri-food sector leader, speaks with Food & Beverage Networker’s Sarah Pursey at this year’s THAIFEX - Anuga Asia about the conglomerate’s latest product innovations and its ambitious sustainability targets.
With roots stretching back to 1978 and the establishment of a company focused on producing and distributing animal feed in southern Thailand, Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Co. Ltd (CP Foods) has advanced over the past 45 years to become a highly integrated agro-industrial and food sector goliath today. Generating revenues of around US$17.5bn over the past financial year according to Forbes, the business operates assets spanning the globe and food value chain.
In line with its vision of becoming the ‘Kitchen of the World’, CP Foods – the world's largest producer of feed and shrimp, and a top three producer globally of poultry and pork – recently showcased an impressive array of future-focused products from its sprawling expo stand at leading F&B industry event THAIFEX - Anuga Asia 2023 in Bangkok.
Among the award-winning innovations on show was the firm’s black pepper chicken breast sausage ‘CP FI-IT’, alongside a range of plant-based meats courtesy of the conglomerate’s MEAT ZERO brand; Omega-3-rich and antibiotic-free Benja Chicken and Cheeva Pork from U FARM, as well as fresh chicken, duck, pork, and egg products from the CP SELECTION line, fortified with probiotics.
Thailand’s leading food business has stated an unerring commitment to providing consumers worldwide with access to safe, quality food that meets international standards and promotes health, while upholding social and environmental responsibility. Certainly, myriad initiatives demonstrate the latter, with that commitment to the planet accordingly recognised through CP Foods’ inclusion in the S&P Sustainability Yearbook 2023, where it ranks in the top five per cent of the food product sector for the third consecutive year. Mr Prasit Boondoungprasert, CEO of CP Foods, remarked that the achievement reflects the agri-food conglomerate’s “commitment to take environmental, social and good governance into account when making business decisions”. To learn more, Food & Beverage Networker’s Editor, Sarah Pursey, met Mr Prasit on CP Foods’ bustling expo stand at THAIFEX – Anuga Asia in Bangkok.
(Food & Beverage Networker): CP Foods clearly enjoys an impressive international presence today. Could you provide an overview of your Group’s current operations?
(Prasit Boondoungprasert): “Our business is one of the largest food companies in Thailand, with production and processing bases in 17 countries across the globe. We use Thailand as the headquarters from which we export our products to around 40 countries worldwide.
“The focus of CP Foods is predominantly on the meat industry, and we’re involved in the entire process – from the feedmill through the slaughter to the production of ready meals and sausages. The main categories upon which we focus are chicken, pork, shrimp, fish and egg. We are therefore very much a protein-based company, ranking sixth globally in that segment overall. Moreover, we’ve used such proteins to move more into ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook dishes, expanding further into the ready meals segment as well as into sausages – and exporting such innovations to many different countries worldwide.”
Where are your strongest export markets today?
“Currently, the largest country to which we export our products is the UK, followed by Japan, with Germany as our third strongest export market.”
I understand CP Foods recently received a clutch of new awards. Could you describe some of the innovative products recognised through those accolades?
“A key mission of ours has been in innovating how we can use our feed mills to make the animals healthier and stronger, and in turn also enrich our meats to upgrade them to even higher quality. We’ve achieved this in recent products [i.e., the brand U Farm’s ‘Cheeva Pork’ and ‘Benja Chicken’] by significantly increasing the Omega-3 content of the meat – and that ultimately comes down to feed development. We also then use that meat to create Thai cuisine dishes, as well as using it in some sausages and more general food items.
“Last year, we entered 17 products into the Superior Taste Awards – organised by the International Taste Institute in Brussels. The competition is based purely on the actual taste of the product, and I’m pleased to announce that we received awards for all 17 products that we submitted, including for those Omega-3-enriched innovations.”
What other trends do CP Foods’ latest award-winning products respond to?
“We’ve been selling sausages for over 20 years, but the trend today is towards healthier iterations and delivering more protein through such products. So, among the products on display at THAIFEX - Anuga Asia has been our award-winning black pepper chicken breast sausage ‘CP FI-IT’, which responds to those evolving consumer demands. In terms of protein content, this 100g pack contains the equivalent of five egg whites. It’s also low in sodium and significantly lower in fat, and contains no MSG. It is targeted at people who exercise regularly or have an active lifestyle. Alongside winning a Superior Taste Award, our FI-IT sausage product also triumphed in the Taste Innovation Awards at this year’s THAIFEX - Anuga Asia, which is one of the world’s largest food industry events.”
Sustainability is clearly a central theme throughout THAIFEX – Anuga Asia this year. As a food industry leader, how is CP Foods responding to that mega-trend?
“Due to our Group’s strong level of integration, we have to be mindful of sustainability across the value chain – from our feed mills all the way to the supermarket shelves. At every stage of the process, we therefore look at how we might save energy and water – and that’s actually something we’ve been doing for the past two or three decades, before sustainability became the buzzword it is today.
“As an industry leader, we want to challenge ourselves when it comes to building a more sustainable business. Thailand as a country has committed to becoming net-zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2065, but as a leading company we are setting out to reach net-zero by 2050. That will undoubtedly be a huge task, requiring much focus on how we’re going to achieve that – as a result, we have many on-going initiatives directed towards sustainability.
“Of the total energy we currently use throughout our operations, around 30 per cent comes from alternative energy sources – solar, wind, biomass and even biogas, using the methane from our pig farming operations. Our company has also made significant progress in other areas such as water management, responsible sourcing, human rights, supply chain development, and the conservation and restoration of watershed forests, and mangrove forests. So, sustainability is definitely a key factor for us, and we’re actually one of the leading organisations in Thailand in terms of trying to promote sustainable practices across the country.”
Looking ahead, can you reveal any of CP Foods’ upcoming plans and investments?
“We will be looking at some M&A. We’ll also explore investments aimed at enhancing our internal processes, such as AI and other new technologies and equipment, including a new software system that can enhance the efficiency of our operations – and therefore ultimately assist us in achieving our sustainability goals – whilst simultaneously underlining our unerring dedication to safety and innovation.”
THAIFEX – Anuga Asia returns to Bangkok (IMPACT Muang Thong Thani expo centre) in Thailand for its 20th anniversary edition from 28th May to 1st June 2024. For further details, visit: thaifex-anuga.com
Latest issue – Vol 1/23
– Health & Nutrition focus
– Gulfood 2023 Special
– Next level legume – The rise of the chickpea
The Hotel & Hospitality Show 2023
Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa