BANGKOK -- Yamato Holdings said March 31 that it began offering refrigerated courier services in Thailand with a local partner. The duo aims to take advantage of growing demand for delivery of goods purchased online in the country.
Yamato and Siam Cement Group, a major Thai building material manufacturer, set up a partnership called SCG Yamato Express and began offering refrigerated deliveries in Bangkok and four nearby provinces last month. They seek to expand coverage nationwide by next year.
Thailand is the third country in Southeast Asia where the leading Japanese courier offers refrigerated deliveries, following Singapore and Malaysia. Richard Chua, managing director of Singapore-based Yamato Asia, said the company hopes to bring the service to Indonesia and Vietnam in one or two years.
There are a number of courier services in Thailand, but the Yamato Siam Cement venture is the first that offers refrigerated deliveries. SCG Express estimates the market for such deliveries at 1.3 billion baht ($37.5 million) annually.
The new service offers two types of chilled delivery -- 0 C to 10 C, and minus 15 C and below. The partners say the deliveries will be useful for fruits and other fresh foods, as well as some Japanese sweets and frozen foods.
The venture began offering room-temperature deliveries in January. As the number of mobile phone users and online shoppers rises in Thailand, demand for courier services is also expanding rapidly.
According to SCG Yamato Express, Thailand's e-commerce market grew 30%, year-on-year, to 700 billion baht in 2016. Small-parcel deliveries are also increasing. The company is aiming for 100 million baht in sales for such deliveries, including chilled boxes, in its first year, rising tenfold within five years.
Nithi Pattarachoke, vice president of parent company SCG Group, said he sees potential demand for delivery of ready-made dishes to the elderly as Thailand ages.
Yamato also plans to begin offering deliveries of refrigerated items from Japan to Thailand on April 17. Japanese food is popular with Thais and Yamato believes demand for the transport of fresh food to Thailand may grow in the future.