BANGKOK — Thais are already familiar with French perfumes, cosmetics, wines, macarons, and handbags. Now, French vendors are hoping to import yet more luxuries to lure Thai customers, like makeup for the dead, body bags, morgue beds, and more.
“You have to look fancy. You have to look good to go to heaven,” Pierre Fouchault, a sales director for Hygeco, a French company renowned as the world’s oldest purveyors of post mortem equipment, said in an interview.
Fouchault, spoke at a three-day Medical Fair being held at Bitec, which is Thailand’s largest international medical exhibition with 1,000 companies from 60 countries present. Some vendors said the country’s aging society is opening up a market for medical supplies aimed at the dead or dying.
Not to be outdone by Chanel or Christian Dior, Hygeco’s lipcolor stack for the dead comes in eight variety including classic rose for dead women, plum wine, nude and soft cherry.
For a dead man, you or your funeral dresser, might opt for what the catalogue called “autumn rust” that should be most seasonal if your funeral happens to be taking place at around this time of the year. All makeups are guaranteed to last long after burial or cremation.
“This is so strong it doesn’t even melt in hell!” Fouchault said as he flipped through the 149-page catalogue.
Hygeco’s other products include biodegradable body bags at just 3 euros a pop. In fact, Hygeco body bags and air-conditioned tents that stored up to 40 dead bodies were deployed in southern Thailand following the devastating 2004 tsunami.
More recently, Fouchault says the company provided bed and equipment for 800-body morgue in Mecca for those who died during Hajj pilgrims.
“The temperature outside is 50 degree Celsius outside and minus 20 inside,” Fouchault says with pride.
In a nearby booth, another one of the 11 French companies present was selling a different kind of bed for those who are still alive but no longer fully mobile. The wonder bed with memory foam sold by Hi-Care is adjustable to as low as 20 centimeters from the floor to suit those suffering from dementia.
“We are giving patients more mobility,” company sales manager Saril Abdallah said.
He said the products will likely sell well in Thailand as its society is greying fast. Number of Thai population over the age of 60 is projected to increase to 25 per cent of the total population by 2040.
Alkapharm, a premium producer of hygiene and disinfection solutions, is also looking for a local distributor.
Sales manager Stephanie Vacher said the company’s disinfectant cleaner is of premium quality, with a high reduction of bacteria and prevention of cross contamination. In layman’s terms, nurses in packed hospitals across Thailand would have much less chance of causing communal infection than they would with low quality disinfectant.
“In every business, everybody wants cheaper prices. If you want quality, you have to pay,” the rolex-wearing Vacher says.
Pride in superior quality, durability and aesthetic-pleasing design is echoed by other French sellers.
For instance, Hygeco’s Fouchault boasted that an interior designer in New York once attempted to buy the company’s autopsy tables and use them as coffee tables for a client; each table comes integrated with carbon air-filter system to remove the smell of death in the air.
“It’s perfect for the kitchen,” Fouchault says. He added that the firm felt the New Yorker’s proposal wouldn’t fit the bed’s right purpose so they declined the sales offer.
Other intriguing brand-new medical equipment touted at the fair include Trail Corporation’s GPS Walk shoes for those suffering from dementia. The elderly can also look forward to Camelton Company’s smart diaper which monitor elderly real-time data and send alerts to caregivers.
“It has fall and inactivity alarms to enable caregivers to attend to elderly on-demand,” the company brochure declared.