In 2017, to meet a growing market demand for natural, seafood-derived ingredients for human nutrition, Thai Union invested in a global business unit focusing on producing and selling ingredients produced from fsh processing co-products. Thai Union Ingredients (TUI) commercializes value-adding innovations identifed by Thai Union’s cutting-edge Global Innovation Center, while creating a sustainable future for the tuna industry by maximizing the valuation of the whole fsh processed by Thai Union.
With the launch of TUI, Thai Union has become the only producer of high-quality refned tuna oil with complete end-to-end supply chain and production and quality ownership. Tuna oil is considered one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids and is especially rich in DHA, which is critical to infant brain development and human health in general.
Thai Union’s tuna crude oil is extracted in Bangkok from raw tuna heads—the best source of the highest-quality tuna oil—supplied straight from its tuna processing plants. The extraction plant is located next to Thai Union’s processing facilities in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, so the raw, uncooked material can be processed immediately and prepared for shipment to Thai Union’s refnery in Germany.
In 2020, Thai Union will start up its tuna oil refnery in Rostock, Germany, that has been rebuilt after the fre in 2019. In this tuna oil refnery, 50-100 tons of tuna fsh oil can be refned every week. Apart from being in a tech-driven region, the refnery is geographically well-positioned in proximity to most of its customers.
The TUI refnery aims to supply 5,000 metric tons of refned tuna oil annually. The oil will be used primarily by manufacturers of nutrient-dense products including infant formula, dietary supplements, clinical nutrition, and functional foods. TUI is currently exploring opportunities to expand its business into other nutrients production, such as a wide range of protein products and bone calcium.
By having control over the entire production chain, the Company can focus on quality and sustainability “from dock to door” while employing traceability. Traceability combats illegal, unreported, and unregulated fshing; ensures operational compliance on vessels to manage bycatch; and stamps out illegal or forced labor. Since Thai Union also owns the fsh from which the oil is extracted, it can secure the required volumes for its customers—unlike refned-tuna-oil-producing competitors that need to source crude oil on the market.