Name : Yamin Naing
Position : Managing Director
Please tell our readers about Theingi Rice.
Theingi Rice was established in Shwebo district, Sagaing Division as a family business in 2009. We distribute Theingi rice to more than 200 distributors in 40 towns. Theingi Rice’s objective is to create the product with good branding and consistent quality all over the country. Our main product is Shwebo Paw San. We produce new nutritional product with the name of “Arr Phyae San” in order to handle nutritional deficiencies. It includes vitamins and eight kinds of minerals.
How do you distribute your products?
We mainly distribute our products to and wholesalers under our brand ‘ Theingi Rice’. There are few rice entrepreneurs who trade with a specific brand name in Myanmar. We are trying to be a top brand in rice market with full guarantee all over the country. People usually purchase rice in the wet market without knowing the brand name, the producers and the guarantee. We are currently producing 2 kg and 5 kg small bags for modern trade line and for entering into premium market. These small bags are distributed to modern trade lines such as City Mart, ProMart and Marketplace. When they are launched, most people think these bags will not be commercially viable and they do not want to sell at the supermarkets.
How do you ensure Theingi rice to be of good quality and high standard?
We try to make our products to be of high quality. My mother said that she does not want consumers to be annoyed because of the rice. It is not good to be annoyed while eating our staple food. We sort out rice into different classes and levels of quality before milling rice. After milling rice, we check the quality of rice again and remove the rice below the set quality standard. We mainly emphasize on high and consistent quality, taste and preferences of the rice to create our brand in the market.
How does the economic downturn affect your business?
Myanmar pulses, beans and sesame seeds merchants entered into rice market last year and speculated in rice because pulses and beans’ prices have decreased. Rice entrepreneurs who produce rice with the specific brand name faced a lot of difficulties because they are not able to handle the high price fluctuations.
What are your main responsibilities at Theingi Rice?
I have roughly 80% authority in Theingi Rice and I am responsible for marketing, branding, acquiring employees and allocating budget. I usually discuss with my father in making important decisions.
What are the major challenges of Theingi Rice in the foreseeable future?
Major challenge is high price fluctuation, sometimes within a week. It is difficult to create strong local branding due to lack of price stability. I hope that a large corporation or government can manage to keep the rice prices stable in the future.
Do you have a plan to export Theingi Rice?
I am planning to start exporting. However, the problem is price. Shwebo Paw San is more expensive than Jasmine Rice in global market due to the greater productivity of Jasmine Rice. We cannot compete with the quality of other rice in global market because of the lack of sophisticated machines.
How your products can be competitive with products in Asian Economic Community?
W e h a v e t o c o n s i d e r w h e t h e r government will allow agricultural sector to participate in AEC because rice is a basic commodity product. If it does, we have to forecast how much it will be allowed to enter. We can determine it only when new government policies are in place. Currently, local people like the quality and taste of our rice. I am not sure they will also like the taste of other AEC products. Another thing is agricultural machines are not very sophisticated in Myanmar. So production costs are more than those of other countries. Rice price fluctuation is also very high, sometimes due to speculation. It is very difficult to control the price of Shwebo rice because of the high demand. There are many difficulties to compete with AEC products in terms of price. Thai rice and Jasmine rice are more reasonably priced than Shwebo Paw San because their productivity is higher. If AEC products are more price reasonable than our products, it will be difficult to compete in the market. The situation may change depending on whether the government provide protection for the farmers.
Do you think Myanmar products are of international standard?
I find that Myanmar producers try to produce international standard products. For example, Myanmar produce green tea leaves very systematically to sell foreigners and gain many certificates for products. Although we do not intend to export our products, we like to give the best products to our local customers. So we try to make our products by using modern machines.
What is your suggestion to improve Myanmar agricultural sector?
I wish we could establish a laboratory in each region to check the product quality and composition. We always have to take our products to Yangon and check them in a laboratory. Although there is no one who will check our certificates, I wish our customers believe in our products. I do not want customers harmed because of any food products. Being in the food sector, I want to give reliability in terms of health assurances to our customers. I wish government support agricultural sector more.