Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — HCM City authorities and businesses have worked hard to provide safe food products for Tết (the Lunar New Year) on January 28.
After more than one month of a programme to enable consumers to check the origin of pork at nearly 350 modern retail outlets, the city Department of Industry and Trade last week expanded the programme to eight traditional markets -- Bến Thành (District 1), Hòa Bình (District 5), Minh Phụng, Phú Lâm and Phú Định (District 6), Rạch Ông (District 8), Bình Thới (District 11) and Gò Vấp (Gò Vấp District).
A programme to trace the origins of fresh vegetables using a smartphone app has just been launched.
The programmes are aimed at improving oversight of hygiene and food safety practices and making consumers feel secure, according to Huỳnh Thị Kim Cúc, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Besides, many inspection teams have been set up, and they are co-operating with districts and relevant agencies to safeguard public health during Tết.
Some agencies have set up hotlines to receive information from the public about hygiene and food safety, instances of food poisoning, fake and poor quality goods and unsafe products.
Nguyễn Anh Đức, deputy general director of Saigon Co.op, said: “We require all suppliers to strictly check their products and strictly refuse suppliers who violate hygiene and safety norms.”
Besides setting up a laboratory at its fresh products warehouse in Bình Dương, keeping samples and sending samples for testing in accordance with regulations, Saigon Co.op has also spent nearly VNĐ3 billion (US$132,743) to set up mobile laboratories that conduct quick tests at all its outlets in the city.
“We have increased product quality checks, especially of foods, in all stages,” he said.
Fresh foods are the supermarket’s main competitive products, and so it has worked to ensure product quality is always reliable, according to Đức.
Many major supermarkets said Tết buying had entered the peak phase since January 14.
Co.opmart, Big C, Lotte Mart and Emart are crowded with shoppers, with many reporting a doubling or even tripling of sales since the end of last month.
Hồ Quốc Nguyên, Big C Việt Nam’s public relations director, said Big C stores were always crowed, especially after 6pm. Best sellers included confectionery, sweets, gift hampers, consumer products, beverages, and beers.
“Stocks have increased by 20-30 per cent compared to last Tết, a majority of which are Vietnamese products.
“Consumers prefer to buy Vietnamese products for Tết due to their diverse range and packaging which is appropriate for Vietnamese traditional New Year.”
Nguyễn Tấn Thanh, a senior executive in Saigon Co.op’s marketing department, said sales on last Thursday and Friday (January 19-20) at Co.opmart, Co.opXtra, and Co.op Food were double that of normal days.
Tết gift baskets, fresh and processed foods, confectionery, sweets and beverages were among the top sellers last week, he said.
Vietnamese products account for more than 90 per cent of the goods stocked at Co.opmart outlets.
“In general, consumers choose to buy Vietnamese goods since Vietnamese producers are increasingly improving their designs and also offering promotions.”
Đoàn Diệp Bình, PR and event manager of Lotte Mart, said this year Vietnamese goods have eye-catching designs which are in no way inferior to imports, and are thus popular with consumers.
“Imported products account for just a little at Lotte Mart to offer more choices to customers.”
Many shops selling speciality products said work has been hectic due to a large number of orders.
Nguyễn Trúc Trâm, director of Việt Nam Three Regions Specialities Company Limited, told Việt Nam News, “Orders for this Tết are double that of last year.”
In addition to Vietnamese food specialities, his company also supplies Thai, Lao and Cambodian speciality foods, he said.
“There are still many orders to be fulfilled from now to Tết.”
Ensure supply, keep prices steady
According to Thủ Đức Wholesales Market officials, the prices of most products have not sharply increased like they did last year, but have gone up by just VNĐ500-1,000 a kilogramme.
The volume of goods entering the market is larger than in previous years.
Some 4,500-5,000 tonnes came daily from January 20 to 22, and increased to 6,500-7,000 tonne subsequently, according to the officials.
Vegetables accounted for 2,300-2,500 tonnes, and fruits for 4,200-4,500 tonnes.
The Hóc Môn Wholesale Market will sell fruits and vegetables until January 26 morning and pork until January 27 (New Year Eve) morning.
At Bình Điền Wholesale Market, the volume of fruits and flowers increased by 50-100 per cent compared to normal days.
Supermarkets too have increased stocks to ensure they can maintain supply during Tết.
They will cut the prices of pork and poultry meat and eggs by 10-15 per cent before Tết.
Nguyễn Quỳnh Trang, deputy director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said there would be no shortages.
She asked wholesale markets and supermarkets to keep a close eye on the market and report to her department if there is a sudden increase in prices so that it can take timely action. — VNS