Del Monte has selected Thailand to become the company’s production base granting it access to Asian markets. Thailand was selected by the canned-food giant for its abundance of fresh produce throughout the year.

In order to expand in the Asian market, Del Monte has established joint ventures with Thai sweet corn producer Agripure Holdings, Thai pineapple grower Samroiyod Corp and Japanese soy producer and Del Monte soy licensee Kikkoman Corp. Siam Del Monte Co has been established to oversee the JVs, in which Del Monte Asia Pte Ltd, a company wholly owned by Kikkoman, controls 75.1%, Samroiyod holds 17.4%, and the remaining 7.5% is held by Agripure.

“It is our first foray into Asia,” said Andrew Cushman, managing director of Del Monte Asia. Cushman, also the CEO of Siam Del Monte, told The Nation that the venture’s objective was value-added production. Initially, the focus will be on sweet-corn soup, cream and pasta sauce. Siam Del Monte also intends to make fruit cocktails, sauces and ready-to-eat foods. The first batch sweet-corn soup and cream will be exported to Hong Kong in April.

“Doing things in unison will consolidate our competitive advantage,” Cushman said. “We chose Thailand as it seemed a good agricultural country with such fruits as rambutan and longan, and vegetables. There is also a 12-month growing cycle for fruit of top quality.” Seaport facilities and investment privileges also add to the Kingdom’s commercial appeal, he said.