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Brewer-turned-politician takes on Thailand’s alcohol duopoly

Thai brewer-turned-politician Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, a member of the Move Forward party, hopes to end an alcohol duopoly in the country.

After winning the most seats in a 14 May general election, Limjittrakorn revealed to Reuters that his party’s election win could assist in giving him a shot at breaking up Boon Rawd Brewery and ThaiBev, which have historically held the nation in a stranglehold regarding the production of alcohol.

Limjittrakorn, who was reportedly once arrested for illegal brewing, has been doing what he can to overhaul strict regulations for years, but this week reached an agreement with prospective coalition partners that include promising measures to “abolish monopolies and promote fair competition in all industries, such as alcoholic beverages”.

However, Damien Yeo, consumer and retail analyst at research firm BMI, told reporters: “Over the long run, both ThaiBev and Boon Rawd have plenty going for them that will help them maintain a healthy lead over any potential new competitors” and indicated that both of the current companies in control had a greater understanding of the regulatory issues within the market.

According to a February 2022 report by Krungsri Research, Boon Rawd currently controls a 57.9% share of the beer category followed by Singapore-listed ThaiBev at 34.3% and Thai Asia Pacific Brewery at 4.7% showing the imbalance within the marketplace.

Despite reports having stated that the prospect of a Move Forward-led government is uncertain, even taking into account its recent progress, Limjittrakorn has remained undeterred and explained: “The progressive alcohol bill is not only a bill, it is a political project. Now, I’m gathering all the stakeholders in this policy to make it happen as smoothly as I can because I realise that we are not the opposition any more. We are government” and added that his reasoning behind the movement is simply because he wants make things fairer. But also, he has an additonal motive — to “drink good beer”.

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