|Speakers at a seminar on Thursday discuss ways to build national brand names for Vietnamese agricultural products. Photo congthuong.vn|
HCM CITY — Việt Nam needs to build brand names for its agricultural products to raise the added value and competitiveness of the products to reach new export markets, experts said.
Speaking at a seminar on Thursday, Nguyễn Như Cường, director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Crop Production Department, said Việt Nam is among the world’s leading farm produce exporters but it mostly exports raw products or finished products under foreign brands.
Key exports include coffee, rubber, rice, aquatic products, cashew nuts, peppers, and fruits and vegetables, among others, he said.
Most of them are sold at small retail stores abroad, instead of large international supermarket chains, he added.
Over the past few years, Việt Nam has focused on building the “Vietnamese rice” brand, but it has yet to export any rice products under this brand, according to Cường.
He added, however, “it’s never too late to start building a brand for farm produce.”
Nguyễn Ngọc Toàn, editor-in-chief of Thanh Niên (Youth) newspaper, the event’s organiser, said Musang King, a Malaysian durian variety grown in Việt Nam, is being sold at between VNĐ500,000 and 800,000 per kg while the Vietnamese Ri-6 durian variety, which is of almost the same quality, is sold at only VNĐ100,000 per kg.
He attributed the difference in prices to the difference between a branded product and a product without a brand or with a brand that is not well-known enough.
“To build a product brand is not to be able to sell more but sell at a higher price,” he said.
Building a brand for farm produce will help farmers earn higher and more stable income while enterprises will improve competitiveness in the global market, he added.
Võ Thị Tam Dân, chairwoman of Rồng Vàng Tea Joint Stock Company, said Việt Nam ranks fifth in the world in terms of tea exports and seventh in tea production.
Vietnamese tea products are exported to 74 countries and territories, including Pakistan, China, Russia and Indonesia, she said.
However, 90 per cent of tea exports are raw products, which are sold at a low price and mostly under foreign brands.
For example, the raw export price of high quality oolong tea ranges from only US$10-12 per kg, she said.
However, tea products are sold at a price up to ten times higher after being processed, mixed and packaged under a foreign brand name, according to Dân.
Dr. Võ Tòng Xuân, an expert in rice, said more than 90 per cent of Vietnamese farm produce exports are crude products, while 80 per cent of the products have yet to have a brand, logo or label.
“We have discussed ways to build brands for farm produce for years, but there has been no improvement yet,” he said.
One of the reasons is the Government has not paid enough attention to promoting the local products’ brands.
In addition, many firms are not near areas with concentrated raw materials for processing activities, leading to difficulties in purchasing raw materials.
Local farm products have access to a number of choosy markets, such as Japan, the US and the EU, through free trade agreements (FTAs) Việt Nam has signed, experts said.
Despite the benefits of the FTAs, the competition can be even more severe, they added.
With an incomplete quality standards system for agricultural products, Vietnamese goods can sometimes fail to meet the quality requirements of exports markets, they warned.
Việt Nam’s commitment to remove tariffs or reduce import taxes for a number of farm products will also open the domestic market to other key agricultural producers.
Trần Bảo Minh, vice chairman of Nutifood’s Board of Directors, said it was important to analyse the advantages of local farm products in order to compete in the international market.
“If we compete Vietnamese apples and pears against those from Australia, we will surely lose, but if we compete with rambutan and durian, we will have many opportunities to win,” he said. “To build a brand name for any product, it’s important to build an industrial ecosystem, and bring great value to all participants in the ecosystem.”
Boonlap Watcharawanitchakul, vice president of C.P. Vietnam Corporation, said Việt Nam is a major exporter of farm produce, but most of the products are not unique as many other countries can also produce them.
He said Việt Nam should focus on unique products to promote all over the world.
“If you want to be unique, you must focus on clean and safe standards. You must always raise the quality standard,” he said.
“The most typical example is the Japanese Kobe beef. I have tried it and found that it is not much different from Vietnamese beef,” he said. “While Vietnamese beef has not built a brand for it yet, Kobe beef is already a specialty that everyone knows and wants to enjoy once.”
With the “Phú Quốc fish sauce” and “Bến Tre shrimp” brands, Việt Nam can develop these brands into world-famous national brands like Japan’s Kobe beef, said Watcharawanitchakul.
Experts recommended Việt Nam continue developing a modern and sustainable farm produce processing system.
Local producers need to strictly comply with regulations on production, harvesting, preliminary processing and processing, as well as packaging, transportation and distribution, they said.
Việt Nam last year earned over $53 billion from exports of agro-forestry-fishery products. — VNS