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Vietnam tries to gain foothold in int'l food industry

Many Vietnamese food items are not available on the world market, while export items often do not have a Vietnamese brand name.

Vietnam tries to gain foothold in int'l food industry

Bui Huy Son, director of Vietrade, said at a workshop that 90 percent of Vietnam’s farm produce is exported under foreign brands.

Nguyen Lam Vien, general director of Vinamit, producer & exporter of dried fruits, said that it is difficult for Vietnamese enterprises to join the world’s consumption channels.

Vietnam is known as a big coffee exporter, but no Vietnamese name is found in the coffee import companies’ lists.

Nguyen Van Don, director of Viet Hung Company, said Vietnam names its rice products as ‘white long-grain rice’, ‘5 percent broken rice’ or ’25 percent broken rice’, while there is no specific brand. 

Importers in China and Hong Kong buy rice from Vietnam, then mix it with other kinds of rice and sell under their brands or Thai brands. Therefore, consumers don’t know that the rice is from Vietnam. 
Many Vietnamese food items are not available on the world market, while export items often do not have a Vietnamese brand name.
Dao Van Ho, a senior official of MARD, said that Vietnam’s farm produce must bear foreign brands to enter foreign markets.

“A business in Hai Duong exports carrots to Dubai under a Chinese name. A pineapple processing company puts its products into boxes with foreign labels when exporting products as per the importers’ requests,” he said.

A report released at an international conference on food industry held in Vietnam in early December showed that Vietnam has 29,500 agricultural farms, including 8,800 arable farms, accounting for 29.83 percent, 10,974 livestock farms (37.2 percent), 430 forestry farms (1.46 percent) , aquatic farms 5,268 (7.86 percent), 4,028 general farms (13.66 percent) and over 740 food processing companies. However, Vietnam still doesn’t have strong food brands.

Vu Van Tu, director of the Lam Dong Investment, Trade & Tourism Promotion Center, said that competitiveness lies in specialty and price. Vietnamese products have both but enterprises’ resources for technology development and branding remain limited.

In Lam Dong province, for example, though some food products can satisfy requirements for export, enterprises still cannot find a way to penetrate the world market because of the small production scale and branding capability.

Meanwhile, Vien from Vinamit said though it is very difficult to cement positions in the world market, this would still be an impossible mission if Vietnamese enterprises make appropriate investments in technology and branding.

Vinamit, for example, has recently focused on making organic products, which, according to Vien, can have added value of 50 percent more than normal products.

“The shortest way to penetrate supermarkets in the world is providing clean and stable products,” he said.

Kim Chi

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