11:10 | 01/02/2019 Culture & Art
(VEN) - In recent years, Vietnam has welcomed many foreign food retailers, reflecting the country’s rapid economic growth, improved living standards and a growing interest in food safety shifting consumers from traditional wet markets to modern supermarkets.
Clay piggy banks were a familiar item in many Vietnamese homes when people used them to save money for tough economic times. Nowadays, making your own money-saving device isn’t only good for your pocket - it’s also a fun and simple project to tackle on a rainy afternoon. The cute piggy banks with eye-catching colors, which are both adult and kid-friendly, are still familiar to many Vietnamese. For those not inclined to homemade handicrafts, Duong Hong Village in Hanoi’s Phuc Tho District is the place to go.
Piggy bank production
Duong Ngoc Tuan from Duong Hong Commune, who has been making piggy banks for more than 20 years, showed us his production workshop. The 59-year-old Tuan said making piggy banks is not difficult but requires diligent attention to detail. After being molded, the gypsum piggy banks are dried, smoothed and polished, and then painted with colorful patterns.
Making a piggy bank is not as easy as it might seem, with results heavily dependent on the weather. While sunny weather allows production of a batch of piggy banks within a week, rain could damage an entire batch. The producer must ensure that the piggy banks are not too dry so that they do not crack and their colors do not fade.
Tuan told us that he loves his job, as it enables him to earn a living and to make children happy when they use the piggy banks to keep the lucky money they receive during Tet (the Lunar New Year holiday).
Piggy bank exports
Tuan was repeatedly interrupted during our conversation by the phone ringing with new orders. He said his workers are busiest from the eighth lunar month of one year to the third lunar month of the subsequent year, and sometimes his workshop cannot keep up with merchants’ growing demand. With 2019 designated as the Year of the Pig, demand for piggy banks has increased considerably, Tuan said. His team works until midnight and gets up at 4am to complete products for on-time delivery.
Tuan said that in the last few months of 2018, a truck came to his workshop every three days to pick up 1,200-1,500 piggy banks worth about VND20 million, bringing in a profit rate of 20-30 percent. Tuan cheerfully told us that the demand for piggy banks has increased sharply since 2018, and if he had more workers his workshop could supply finished products every two days instead of every three days.
Tuan confided in us that his 500-square-meter workshop has yielded a profit of about VND300 million per year and provided stable jobs for 10 people with a monthly pay of VND5-6 million. Tuan and his relatives taught many villagers how to make piggy banks to earn a living. There are seven piggy bank production establishments in Thanh Da Commune. Their products re not only sold nationwide but also exported to the US.
Tuan said that in March 2015, immediately after his relative introduced Tuan’s piggy banks on Alibaba, the products drew the attention of foreign customers, and an American from Pennsylvania ordered 2,500 plaster piggy banks in seven different colors.
Tuan and his colleagues were extremely excited when exporting that first batch of piggy banks at a price of US$22.8 per unit, about 10 times the price in the domestic market.
Tuan said his workshop would continue to improve product quality and design to find new sales opportunities.
Vietnamese people are hoping to stuff their piggy banks with lucky money as the Lunar New Year approaches. The
nostalgic crafts have long been a fixture in Vietnamese families and a source of thrill for children when they finally
smash open the clay pigs, particularly at year’s end, and count the savings with delight.