by Bhiramon Chuprapawan
Managing Director of 4Care Co.,Ltd.
The trend of healthy food currently gains steam among consumers. But questions have to be raised as to which product brands meet standard or what kind of key ingredients they use. 4CARE products are above board with considerate selection of ingredients. The company staff are deployed to farm areas to seek out qualified ingredients to ensure good quality of products from upstream to downstream.
Bhiramon Chuprapawan, managing director of 4CARE Co, said the company, founded in 2004, earlier produced a coconut cream replacement call Coconut Cream Alternative from rice bran oil and rice germ drink. The Organic rice drink has been recently marketed for two years. In the first year, the Organic Rice Drink was awarded with IFOAM standard. Right now, the product is upgraded and also earns USDA certification. The two standards are not much different. With the USDA certification, plant calcium from Iceland’s Lithothamnion Seaweed has been chosen to add into the Organic rice drink. This is natural calcium and the company is Thailand’s first producer to use it. New packages have also been designed to look more attractive and modern.
For the BALANCE Organic Rice Drink with USDA certification, all ingredients used must fall in line with the USDA standard. This is a difficult point. Ingredients that are certified organic are very rare. Not only that, since the product will be kept at room temperature for long, we have to solve how to prevent the rice content from settling down at the bottom of containers. For example, it is very difficult to produce strawberry and vanilla flavours by using only organic flavours. The organic products are also easy to transform. The company had used natural food colour in strawberry flavor. But when it passes through the UHT process, the colour is always changed. They then turn to use “Riceberry” to mix into the product which could generate condensed colour.
Regarding “organic” definition, the company attaches importance to the ecosystem balance. The company uses organic jasmine rice from Yasothon province in the Northeast and chooses to buy the organic rice directly from the local farmers. Since, during the start of the business, the company staff descended on the areas to meet local farmers and learned difficulties in growing organic rice which can be planted only once a year and yields only few output. The company then determined to support organic rice farming because using chemicals in their crops means farmers also receive such pesticides.
The company sees that if they could add value to farmers’ produces, the farmers would be encouraged to grow organic rice more. Since, to move to organic rice cultivation needs so much development in order to follow organic practice. Commonly, chemical fertilizers are used to grow rice crops for it helps increase yield. For organic rice, it cannot be applied. So farmers need strong determination to grow organic crops and develop rice seeds. The company plays a part in boosting organic rice cultivation. This is a good thing which should be supported.
The 4CARE drink is produced at a factory in Nakhon Ratchasima. The facility makes the products under the concept of 4CARE. The company formulates products, seeks out ingredients and develops package designs.
4CARE’s outstanding point lies in the innovation in production process and products. With knowledge of food science, the company uses such expertise in the products but not compromise with taste. The firm’s product lines are divided into three brands. 4CARE TASTIFIT is healthy cooking cream from cereals. There goes TASTIFIT Coconut Cream Alternative to replace coconut milk in curry dishes and TASTIFIT Non-Dairy Cooking Cream ,made from rice bran oil, for western cuisine, such as soup and pasta.
For the drinking product brand, 4CARE BALANCE has been marketed. It is divided into two groups. 4CARE BALANCE Cereal Drink is rice germ drink from three types of grains – jasmine brown rice germs, wheat germs and oats. 4CARE BALANCE ORGANIC Rice Drink is rice drink with high calcium and allergen free benefits.
4CARE BALANCE ORGANIC Rice Drink is now sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets as well as hospitals. The target group includes children with allergy – lactose and gluten intolerance – or those who do not favour cow milk. Delivery service is also offered. 4CARE BALANCE ORGANIC Rice Drink comes in different flavors including vanilla and strawberry flavours from organic ingredients. Even sugar is also derived from organic crops.
To build up brand awareness, the company is the first and the sole producer of organic rice-based products. The products are marketised directly to the target group, which are health conscious consumers through various events. The method allows customers to taste the products and experience the quality of goods. Another target group is those in hospitals.
The company also has a plan to expand product lines under BALANCE ORGANIC brand. Overseas market will be more explored. Several countries are interested in the products, but some still face restrictions about organic product regulations. By the way, the company opens for any opportunity, especially in Europe, the US and Asean countries.
“The key of the business is to heed consumers’ voice and understand it. We listen to what customers need and use knowledge of food science to make it happen. When we decided to launch the coconut cream alternative, we first learned that most customers favour food with coconut milk, such as green curry and Tom Kha gai, but they were concerned about blocked blood vessels and dyslipidemia. Doctors always warn people to avoid or even prohibit them from this kind of food. We thus did make use of Food science technology to create food products. To let them enjoy what they love with no worries,” said Ms. Bhiramon.