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Pfizer Opens SE Asian Centre

by 5m Editor
9 November 2010, at 11:35a.m.

THAILAND - Pfizer has picked Thailand as its operations hub for animal-health products in Southeast Asia to capitalise on the region’s fast-growing economies.

"We selected Thailand as the best place for our regional headquarters in terms of economic growth, growing animal health business, best practices and talented people. These factors will help drive our business here," Juan Ramon Alaix, president for the animal-health business of Pfizer Inc, told The Nation during his recent visit to Bangkok in connection with the setting up of Pfizer (Thailand).

The Thai operation will become a springboard for Pfizer to this attractive market and throughout the region. The company's animal-health business includes not only food animals, focusing on cows, pigs, poultry and fish, but also companion animals.

According to The Nation, Pfizer is the world No. 1 in animal health, reporting total sales of US$1.7 billion (50.1 billion baht; THB) in the first half of this year.

Its products are manufactured in 16 plants throughout the US, European Union, Asia, Australia and New Zealand and distributed in 60 countries worldwide. Its business in Thailand has enjoyed double-digit growth this year.

The company's philosophy is to try to develop not only innovative goods but also healthier products to ensure food safety for humans and longer life for pets.

Pfizer has to focus on quality and work closely with its partners to ensure that its products serve market needs and pet shops provide more services.

Mr Alaix continued: "As countries are imposing stringent restrictions regarding food safety, Pfizer has to ensure our consumers on food safety." The company spends $300 million annually on research and development, which ranks as its biggest expense for innovative products.

There are also additional budgets to encourage each market to develop innovative products to serve domestic demand. Big spending on research and development has allowed the company to produce a variety of animal-health products for many species of animals and their diseases.

He said: "We can address the needs of our customers as we have specific solutions for each country – such as India, where we concentrate on research and development on pharmaceuticals and cows, while Thailand focuses on fish – in line with investment and development in each market."

Pfizer wants to become more than an animal health and pharmaceutical company by focusing on food solutions for its partners, including farmers, by increasing their productivity and providing good services.

The company is moving into developing innovative genes that create high-quality meat.

Mr Alaix explained: "However, we're not trying to manipulate the market. Genetic investment is part of our solution to allow customers to have higher quality production."

In Southeast Asia, the company is interested in investing in two great opportunity areas – poultry and aquaculture, reports The Nation.

"This region is the company's engine of growth in animal-health products so we have continued investing in R&D," Mr Alaix said.

Arkhom Cheewakriengkrai, Southeast Asia director of Pfizer Animal Health, said the company's primary investment in Thailand is in knowledge resources through qualified veterinarians. During the last 10 months, their number has increased by nearly 50 per cent.

The company is also structuring operations into two separate, specialised units for food animals and companion animals.

Mr Arkhom explained: "This will help us manage our knowledge resources better in serving the specialised needs of these two distinct groups of customers." Pfizer Thailand Animal Health is No. 1 in this segment.

The animal-health business environment in Thailand is very competitive, he continued. A number of major multinational companies are present in the Thai market and they are expanding fast to cover all species.

As the new head of the business, Mr Arkhom is responsible for setting and managing strategic direction and performance in five countries – Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam – with more than 180 veterinarians and employees under his leadership.

Besides Thailand, Viet Nam and Indonesia are the two most promising markets in the region delivering double-digit growth.

Pfizer is investing to develop animal genes that create hybrid breeds, starting in Europe and Australia, focusing on cows. Successful development will allow the company to distribute new breeds to customers.

The company sees cows as having better business potential than poultry, which have been under development for years. However, the development has not been designed for a commercial purpose yet.

The Nation report concludes that the company has recently appointed Songwut Sakchalathorn as general manager of Pfizer (Thailand)'s animal health business, responsible for direction, strategy and implementation.