The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) has gradually lost market share to imported cigarettes since the country lifted the tax barrier two decades ago, says director-general Torsak Chotimongkol.
Local cigarettes still claim 76 percent of the market, but foreign cigarettes are likely to gain one percentage point to 25 percent by the end of this year, according to a story in the Bangkok Post.
Torsak said TTM is trying to regain market share in the middle- to upper-income markets dominated by imported cigarettes, while also keeping its low-income base. “We need to protect our share from imports, as our margin is quite thin,” he said.
TTM cigarettes make up 33 percent of the market, legally imported cigarettes make up 12 percent, smuggled smokes contribute 10 percent and roll-your-own tobacco comprises 45 percent, said Torsak.
Roll-your-own tobacco has gained rapidly as a result of the tax waiver for local breeds of tobacco, while the tobacco produced by TTM is taxed at THB1,000 a kilogram.
Last year TTM had total sales of 36 billion units for THB70 billion, and this year will likely be similar.
“If TTM can expand overseas, our sales may reach THB100 billion, as we are now attempting to enter into Japan, the U.S. and Europe to build up our brand,” said Tanusak Lekuthai, deputy finance minister.