Thai entrepreneur tells how she has turned this traditional dish into an instant success.

Thailand’s bird’s nests are famous around the globe. In addition to bird’s nests collected from caves in seaside provinces such as Phattalung, Satun and Trang, there are swallow nest farms inside buildings in several provinces, among them is Prachuabkirikhan, the home of SHEWON brand.

According to the book Bird’s Nests, Business and Ethnicity in Southeast Asia, Thailand can supply 400 tonnes of edible nests annually collected from both natural sources and nest farms. This business generates around US$325 million (10 billion baht) per year. The Kingdom is the third largest producer of bird’s nests in the Southeast Asia, while Indonesia is the biggest producer, exporting around 2,000 tonnes per year, followed by Malaysia with 600 tonnes.

“My family has run this bird’s nest farm for seven years. Previously, we supplied raw bird’s nests to other producers before I decided to establish the brand, SHEWON in 2017 to produce and distribute the bird’s nest instant drink under our brand,” says KCD Intertrade Managing Director, Panchat Dujtipiya, the producer of SHEWON bird’s nests.

According to her, Bangsaphan district in Prachuakirikhan is one of the provinces in Thailand with a suitable climate for having a swallow bird’s nest farm.

“We constructed a building and created the environment with the proper temperature for raising the swallows,” she explains. “Now, we can collect four to five kilograms of raw bird’s nests per month.”

Dujitipiya claims that SHEWON is the first brand to use a freeze drying technique to produce bird’s nest instant drink.

“With this technique, we can maintain the quality of the bird’s nest. Our product has a one-year shelf life. It is easy to make this instant drink. Just put the freeze-dried bird’s nest in a cup, add 80 ml. of hot water and wait for three minutes, the bird’s nest drink is ready to serve,” she explains.

In addition to its dried bird’s nest instant drink with Pandan flavour, SHEWON also offers other products: white bird’s nest and ready-to-eat bird’s nest.

Since the launch of its dried bird’s nest instant drink in August 2018, the brand has received positive feedback from its customers.

“80% of our target customers are tourists, Chinese in particular, while 20% are Thai health-conscious consumers,” she says. “Because of its benefit and light weight, tourists can buy SHEWON bird’s nest instant drink as a souvenir from Thailand and carry it conveniently and easily.”

SHEWON products are available at ICONSIAM in Bangkok, Tops Supermarket in Bangkok and other tourist destinations and souvenir shops. Dujitipiya plans to launch another bird’s nest flavour instant drink in the near future as well as promoting her products in target markets such as China, Taiwan and Singapore, where people love to eat bird’s nest because they believe that it promotes good health.

“We are focusing on processed the bird’s nests collected from our farm, rather than selling them to other producers,” she adds. “Because of the increasing demand for bird’s nest, our supply is normally lower than the demand.”

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Words by Somhatai Mosika