Thailand’s NRF propels food industry toward net zero for a sustainable future


Thailand have set its sights on achieving carbon neutrality to build a sustainable future for the next generation over the past few years. These goals have been embraced by among business leaders, who have made considerable efforts to restructure work processes and supply chains, both upstream and downstream, to make sure their operation is sustainable.

Also following this trend is NR Instant Produce (NRF), a food industry leader and producer of food for the future. The CEO announced the company’s commitment to sustainability at a recent international forum in Bangkok hosted by the United Nations Global Compact Network Thailand.

Speaking under the topic “Building Supply Chain Resilience” at the forum, NRF’s CEO Dan Pathomvanich emphasized the firm’s goal of achieving net zero by 2030.

(Photo: valeria_aksakova)

Net zero goal begins from organizational culture

Dan pointed out that as many as 60% of NRF products, which include seasonings, sauces, curry pastes and alternative protein foods, come from suppliers. Therefore, the company’s sustainability strategy focuses on pushing products toward net zero as soon as possible.

He said NRF has been working with its upstream suppliers, namely more than 1,000 local farmers, in transitioning from traditional agriculture to organic farming, while lowering the burning of harvest leftovers.

The company has also encouraged its midstream and downstream partners, including factories and retail shops, to set the goals for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

Dan said NRF has incorporated the concept of net zero in its organizational culture, by educating every unit on the meaning of net zero, its objectives, as well as measures to delivering these goals, such as turning waste into fertilizers and installing solar panels.

Dan (right second) mentioned NRF collaborates with over 1,000 local farmers in Thailand, promoting sustainable agricultural transformation. (Photo: Dan Pathomvanich)

Reducing emissions from crops burning

“We also promote the practice of green manufacturing and food innovation among midstream and downstream partners to drive our products towards net zero,” he said. “Our best product for sustainability is plant-based food, whose manufacturing process has a lower emission than the traditional livestock industry.”

He said that NRF’s top mission is to identify areas in its supply chain that can be further improved to achieve net zero. One of the most challenging projects is to convince suppliers to stop using chemical insecticides and to urge farmers to refrain from burning leftover crops. Crops burning is responsible for over 20 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, or about 10% of Thailand’s total emissions.

“In the past decade, NRF has also launched several initiatives to help local farmers, including buying produce at 20-30% higher than market prices, providing training, and investing in large-scale operators to help them further expand enterprises,” Dan said.

“We also piloted a program in Chiang Rai to turn the leftover crop into biomass instead of burning them, generating extra profits for farmers while also cutting emission from crop burning.”

Better value chain is crucial to sustainability

Dan said he believes that the best value chain in the food industry is to buy products from suppliers at higher prices to motivate farmers on the path of sustainability and improve the overall supply chain system.

“But the food industry’s competitiveness is determined by downstream partners like supermarkets, who use price cutting to undercut rivals. This, together with inflation, has made it more difficult for the supply chain to meet net zero goal,” he said.

He said this difficulty has prompted NRF to start investing in the downstream area of the supply chain. NRF has bought two Asian supermarkets in the U.K. through its subsidiary Bamboo Mart, enabling it to export fruits and vegetables from Thailand worth over a million baht per week without going through middlemen.

The supermarkets offer higher profit margins to farmers, while motivating them to adjust practice under sustainability principles, essentially pushing NRF’s products toward net zero, Dan said.

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