Thai MP-elect aims to break £11bn alcohol duopoly with progressive bill

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A member of parliament-elect with a passion for beer is seeking to challenge the 470-billion-baht alcohol duopoly held by two of Thailand’s wealthiest families, following the Move Forward Party’s recent election victory. Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, a 34 year old brewer turned politician, has long fought against stringent regulations that benefit Boon Rawd Brewery and ThaiBev, the two companies dominating the country’s alcohol production.

This week, the Move Forward Party (MFP) reached an agreement with potential coalition partners that includes measures to “abolish monopolies and promote fair competition in all industries, such as alcoholic beverages.” Taopiphop, who was re-elected in Bangkok Constituency 22, said…

“The progressive alcohol bill is not only a bill, it is a political project.”

Boon Rawd, the maker of Singha and Leo beers, and ThaiBev, the brewer of Chang, did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters. Boon Rawd, founded in 1933, is owned and controlled by the Bhirombhakdi family, while ThaiBev was founded by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, who has a net worth of US$14 billion.

Damien Yeo, a consumer and retail analyst at research firm BMI, suggested that if MFP successfully leads the government and opens up the alcohol sector, the two companies may experience short-term effects due to new competitors. However, Yeo added that “both ThaiBev and Boon Rawd have plenty going for them that will help them maintain a healthy lead over any potential new competitors.”

According to a February 2022 report by Krungsri Research, more than half of Thailand’s alcoholic drinks market, valued at about 470 billion baht in 2020, consists of beer. Boon Rawd controls 57.9% of the beer market, followed by Singapore-listed ThaiBev with 34.3% and Thai Asia Pacific Brewery with 4.7%. ThaiBev is also the leader in the spirits market with a 59.5% share, reported Bangkok Post.

Taopiphop aims to amend excise laws to remove high-entry barriers for the alcohol industry that largely favour major firms like Boon Rawd and ThaiBev. He hopes to help small domestic brewers gain at least 10% of the beer market within a decade. Piti Bhirombhakdi, a board member of Boon Rawd, said in a social media post that he supported the liberalisation of the industry.

Taopiphop plans to follow up on regulatory easing with further legislation on rationalising restrictive alcohol advertising and allowing 24-hour alcohol sales. He said…

“I’m not an extremist. I want to drink good beer.”

Thailand News

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.

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