Thanada Thomas has turned personal tragedy, losing both of her parents to cancer, into the motivation for developing the world’s first and only energy gel made from Thai aromatic coconuts.
“Since I studied pharmacy, I have learned about holistic health and found there are many options for patients that may not require chemotherapy treatment,” says the CEO of Powco Potassium Energy. “The best preventive practice is to eat medicinal food.”
Thomas continued her studies in Food Business Management at the College of Management, Mahidol University with a “determination to do a sustainable food business,” she says.
During her studies, Thomas observed marathon running become increasingly popular, with 15 million Thai people running marathons.
“I did a survey of 500 runners to see what they eat during their marathon and found that energy gel is ranked third after bananas and bread,” she says. “People also see the advantage of energy gel; it provides instant energy, and it is easier to absorb than real food.”
However, 99 percent of Thailand’s energy gel is imported from abroad, and contains various synthetic food and sweeteners to make it last longer. This is in conflict with the life of athletes who love running for their health.
“So, I thought about making energy gel with natural ingredients, and let runners vote from a list of Thai fruits. They chose coconut. Fortunately, in my hometown Ratchaburi, aromatic coconuts are in abundance,” says Thomas.
“I received a two-million-baht research and product development fund from TED Fund to start developing this product,” she adds. “As I wanted to help Thai farmers, I offered to buy coconuts directly without lowering the price, but in return the farmers have to prepare the soil in an organic way.”
Namhom coconut is nutritious, while coconut water is a natural electrolyte and good for the human bio system.
“We found a study that potassium, which is contained in coconut water, is the only mineral in the world that can help prevent cramps,” she adds. “Thailand has very high potassium in the soil.”
According to Thomas, Powco is the first brand in the world to use aromatic coconuts to make energy gel.
“Powco is also the only energy gel in Thailand that conducts human research to test its efficacy and safety before it goes to market. Powco can maintain blood sugar levels for two hours,” she adds.
Thomas believes that Thailand has great potential in the global food industry, especially in food innovation and SMEs are the main driving force behind the country’s GDP growth.
Explore more Thai food products at THAIFEX-Anuga Asia, from May 23 to 27 at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok.
Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi
Photo courtesy of POWCO Potassium Energy