Husband’s indigestion leads to woman’s success in yogurt business

Yogurt’s ability to ease indigestion and soothe the stomach was an important factor in leading a Lao woman to successfully enter the competitive market for this popular dessert snack.
Even though one could say that she achieved business success by chance, the Deputy Manager of the Thanik Yogurt Factory, Ms Vilaythip Chanthavong, says it’s all down to her efforts to maintain the quality of the yogurt. Her products now have 20-30 percent of the market share.
Lao yogurt has gained in popularity compared to 2010 when she started the business. Ms Vilaythip says she expects to be even more successful in the years to come.
The factory produces two main kinds of yoghurt – one made with sugar and one without sugar for more health conscious customers.
“We care about customers’ preferences which is why the quality and flavour of our products are adjusted according to customer feedback,” she said.
In addition to selling yogurt to individuals she also sells in bulk to hotels and restaurants across Vientiane.
Ms Vilaythip is very happy to see the popularity of herproducts grow. They are now also on sale in Thailand, Vietnam and China.
While the number of local yogurt makers is on the rise, she says she’s not too worried about competition; instead her focus is on paying attention to quality.
She buys 50-60 percent of the ingredients needed to make the yoghurt from other countries but the remaining 40 percent is fresh milk which is sourced locally.
Since she opened the factory in 2010, Ms Vilaythip’s yogurt has constantly improved.
Today, the factory produces different fruit flavours including strawberry, blueberry, mixed fruit and other kinds of fruit. The yogurt comes in four sizes of container – 70g, 140g, 500g and 1,000g.
“I accept all feedback from customers in order to improve my product as I realise that feedback can help to improve quality,” she said. 
As part of her marketing strategy, in 2013 Ms Vilaythip began to display her product at some mini-marts in Vientiane, which improved her popularity.
Before entering the market eight years ago, Ms Vilaythip worked in general sales. At that time, her husband was suffering from indigestion and in addition to taking medicine prescribed by the doctor he also ate yogurt regularly on his doctor’s advice.
Ms Vilaythip decided to make her own yogurt for her husband to eat. After eating yogurt for several years, she observed that his condition had improved and eventually he was cured. Because of this she always gave home-made yogurt to friends when they visited her.
People who tasted the yogurt were very impressed and encouraged her to sell it. That was the start of her business.
At the beginning, getting the product out and known among consumers was difficult so she gave out free samples.
Now the Thanik Yogurt Factory, located in Hongkha village, Chanthabouly district, has received a certificate of good hygiene from the Food and Drug Department of the Ministry of Health.
In the near future, she plans to expand the factory and sell the yoghurt in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, as well as in Luang Prabang, Champassak and Savannakhet provinces, which are frequented by tourists.
“This is a way to promote Lao yogurt to foreigners,” said Ms Vilaythip.
For now, the factory plans to continue to improve the quality of its products so they comply with the standards set by the internationally-recognised Good Manufacturing Practices and International Organisation for Standardisation and can be exported.


By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 3, 2018
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