Plastic water bottles litter the remains of the MPP factory.
The destruction of the MPP factory in the anti-Thai riots of January 29 cost the
Thai-owned business millions of dollars, but left some producers of drinking water
much better off. Modern Plastic & Packaging (MPP), which was burned to the ground
by a mob, manufactured the best-selling Ozone brand.
Although MPP staff refused to comment on the issue, saying it was a matter of discussion
between Thailand and Cambodia, other industry sources described the brand as the
likely market leader.
Its demise, whether temporary or permanent, has given other companies a unique chance
to boost their sales. Tieng Thai, the marketing manager at rival Eurotech, said sales
of his brand had jumped 40 percent.
Prior to the riot, Eurotech distributed 1,000 twenty-liter bottles of drinking water
a day, each retailing for one dollar. Now it is selling 1,400.
"It has proved a good opportunity for our company," said Thai. "We
have needed to produce more to meet the needs of our customers since this Ozone incident."
A salesman at Eau de Vie, another drinking water company, said its sales had increased
around 30 percent to 13,000 bottles a month. The Singaporean-owned R.O. Company noted
a more modest 5 percent jump, which it attributed in part to the destruction of Ozone.
But it is not all good news for the competition. The MPP factory also manufactured
tens of thousands of one-liter plastic bottles each day for other bottlers. Some,
like the Joy Water Company, have been forced to import empty bottles from Thailand
to make up the shortfall.
Others have been forced to cut production. Dy Vong Neak, owner of Alpine Water, said
MPP used to churn out 160,000 bottles a day. Before the riots he was buying 3,600
of the one-liter bottles; now he could only find 600 which he sourced from a local
small enterprise. The result is that where others are making money, he is losing.
The other losers are the 600 MPP workers whose jobs disappeared that night. They
are still waiting for their January wages, and have yet to hear whether they will
MPP, though, will be helped: the damage to the company is currently being assessed
by a special government commission which was set up in the wake of the riots. The
company estimated the damage was at least $7 million.