By Susan J. Cunningham
Thailand has long boasted a seafood superpower. Now second-generation leader Thiraphong Chansiri has made Thai Union Frozen truly global.
Last year, when the world’s largest tuna exporter announced it was buying 143-year-old John West and three other venerable European seafood brands in an $883 million deal, few Europeans had heard of Thai Union Frozen. “In fact, very few Thai people would know our company,” says Thai Union President Thiraphong Chansiri.
“It’s our culture, our personality. We never paid much attention to the press.” For years it was primarily a contract producer for international brands, and it still draws more than 90% of its revenue from overseas, so it was enough to be respected by investors, analysts and heavyweight customers in the U.S. and Japan, he says.
That’s changed under the 46-year-old Thiraphong, the eldest son of a cofounder and the face of a company that never needed a face before. Thai Union has wholly owned the third most popular US tuna brand, Chicken of the Sea, since 2000. Now, with the purchase of John West, France’s Hyacinthe Parmentier and … MORE
For those that persist to the end, I’m not responsible for the many Thai companies that “floundered” in 1997; they foundered, of course.