MFP aims to break Thailand’s alcohol monopoly

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Hopes are high among small breweries and local distilleries in Thailand as the Move Forward Party (MFP) seeks to liberalise the alcohol industry. The current heavily monopolised industry has made it challenging for small businesses to thrive due to strict laws and regulations controlling production and retailing.

Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, the MFP MP in Bangkok’s Constituency 22 and a leading liquor liberalisation campaigner stated that amending these laws to promote fairer competition for small enterprises and breaking the liquor industry monopoly will be one of the party’s first actions in parliament. Taopiphop said…

“Our first step will be to amend the ministerial regulations on liquor production, which can be done within the first week of the first parliamentary session to unlock the remaining barriers preventing small-scale distilleries from entering the business.”

Supapong Pruenglampoo, the co-founder of Sandport Brewery, a small craft brewery in the Chatuchak district, is one entrepreneur directly affected by the restrictive rules. He claims that these rules were written heavily in favour of giant conglomerates and designed to deter small firms from entering the industry.

Despite the rules for craft brewery registration being lifted in 2022, the criteria for distilled spirits remain the same, requiring a minimum production capacity of 30,000 litres per day to obtain a licence for distilled spirit production, reported Bangkok Post.

Thanakorn Tuamsa-ngiam, founder of Prachachon Beer (Beer People), a social network group advocating for liquor liberalisation, said the enforcement of laws is also a significant problem. He said…

“When enforcing alcohol control rules, officials often overlook the misdeeds of big companies and instead focus on prosecuting small business owners. They can interpret the law to penalise small businesses and ordinary people deliberately.”

Despite the law discouraging small liquor enterprises, Thanakorn said more people are interested in homebrewing and setting up their own businesses, which aligns with global trends in an alcohol industry which is diversifying. He said…

“Thailand has diverse agricultural products that can be based for developing craft beers and speciality spirits. With support from authorities, we can be a global hub for craft beer tourism, which can lift the economy and boost tourism.”

Piti Bhirombhakdi, a Boon Rawd Brewery Ltd director and a fourth-generation scion of the Singha Beer corporate empire, also supports MFP’s bid to liberalise the liquor industry. Piti said…

“Sure, there will be more intense competition for market share, but this is a normal thing in the free market. I also believe liquor liberalisation will bring much greater benefits to our company and the industry.”

However, some medical experts are concerned about the possible social impacts that easier access and potentially higher alcohol consumption could bring if controls are loosened.

Dr Udomsak Saengow, director of the Research Institute for Health Sciences at Walailak University, said…

“I agree liquor liberalisation can help boost the economy and support small local businesses, but the strict laws controlling the advertising and sale of alcohol are also important to prevent adverse impacts on public health and society from irresponsible drinking.”

Thailand News

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.