10:25 | 30/03/2016 Trade
(VEN) - Vietnamese food and agricultural products left a strong impression at the five-day Gulfood 2016 international fair that took place in Dubai this February. The Vietnamese pavilion attracted thousands of international customers, and big contracts were signed. Vietnam Economic News’ Kim Lien interviewed Nguyen Lien Phuong, President of the LP Group and Director of the LP Vietnam Academy of Entrepreneurs.
Over the last four years, the LP Vietnam Academy of Entrepreneurs has actively helped Vietnamese businesses enter the Dubai market. Why was Dubai chosen to be a bridge for Vietnamese brands to go abroad?
Dubai is located at the intersection of Asia, Europe, and Africa. As an open economy, Dubai applies policies that create the most favorable conditions for it to attract investment and facilitate trade and tourism. With these advantages, Dubai is considered as a major marketing gateway to the world. More than 40 specialized international fairs and exhibitions take place in Dubai annually, many of which are listed among the world’s largest trade events. Gulfood that takes place in Dubai every February is the world’s largest agricultural products, food and beverage fair, with 120 national pavilions and nearly 5,000 exhibitors, attracting more than 80,000 commercial visitors from 170 countries.
Therefore, participants in international fairs and exhibitions in Dubai can not only penetrate the Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Middle East markets, but also seek opportunities to access vibrant global trade in Dubai.
Could you share the results of the trade promotion program that the academy implemented in recent years based on the ‘flying birds’ model?
Our LP Group began doing business in Dubai in 2008, so we have great experience in seeking business opportunities from this marketing gateway. In 2012, LP launched a trade promotion program to help Vietnamese business enter the Dubai market. Over the last four years, LP has taken more than 1,500 Vietnamese entrepreneurs to Dubai to survey the market and participate in fairs and exhibitions here. Last year, we provided support for many Vietnamese companies to take part in eight specialized fairs in Dubai. In February 2016, 24 Vietnamese businesses participated in Gulfood, including leading brands such as Vinamilk, TH True Milk, and Hapro. Many major contracts were signed, for example a milk product export contract worth US$12.5 million signed by Vinamilk. Some companies have received export orders for the whole year of 2016, with examples including the Hanoi-Kinh Bac Company, and the Lang Son Star Anise Company.
Through a wide range of activities, LP can help businesses promote trade in a context of deepening international integration. LP-brand products have been exported to more than 60 countries. LP has conducted research on the economic theory of image building that provides the basis of thinking for entrepreneurs. Moreover, LP is capable of designing international-standard packaging. Aware of the importance of design and packaging, the LP Vietnam Academy of Entrepreneurs will launch a support program that provides design consultancy for businesses participating in Gulfood this year.
Vietnamese products left a strong impression at Gulfood Dubai 2016
Food and agricultural products are among key Vietnamese exports. However, it’s not easy for these products to access Dubai and via this market enter the Middle East and global markets through Vietnamese brands. What do you think Vietnamese businesses need to prepare for this?
It’s really a big challenge to take Vietnamese goods abroad under Vietnamese brands, especially agricultural products, food and beverages, as we have to compete with Thailand and other rivals from ASEAN and Asia as a whole. However, through the participation of Vietnamese businesses in Gulfood over the last three years, we found that there would be great opportunities for Vietnamese brands to enter the Dubai market.
These opportunities may come from the National Branding Program, also known as Vietnam Value. Although the Vietnamese pavilion was smaller in size compared with the pavilions of other countries, it attracted the largest number of commercial visitors. The Lang Son Star Anise Company for example participated in Gulfood for the first time to present its bottled star anise attar products under its own brand. Before it took part in Gulfood, the company sold these products mostly to Chinese customers and suffered price pressures from them. When participating in Gulfood, the company’s leaders were very surprised at the great interest of international customers in its products. Through the fair, they have attracted large orders that exceed the company’s current production capacity.
Another example is pepper products of the Hanoi-Kinh Bac Company. Company Chairman Duong Quang Lu said the company received more than 2,000 commercial visitors and signed export contracts totally worth over VND50 billion with some Indian customers during the five-day fair.
The Vietnamese pavilion at Gulfood Dubai seems to be too small. Does the academy have any plans to enlarge it to meet the demand of businesses that want to participate in the fair?
Gulfood Dubai offers a meeting place for agricultural product, food and beverage suppliers, wholesalers and retailers, gathering nearly 5,000 businesses from all over the world. Therefore, it’s very difficult to increase the size of pavilions.
However, the Vietnamese pavilion has left a good impression at Gulfood Dubai over the last three years. So the organizing board has agreed to increase its size by 1.5 times next year.
What do you think the state should do to assist businesses in taking Vietnamese brands abroad?
Many Vietnamese businesses dream of taking Vietnamese agricultural and food brands to the global market. To do this, however, apart from their own efforts, businesses very much need state support, especially in popularizing Vietnamese brands among foreign consumers.
The UAE and Dubai in particular are Vietnam’s seventh largest export market. Last year, Vietnamese exports to Dubai reached US$5.8 billion. However, the Vietnamese trade office in Dubai currently has only one official and therefore faces huge amounts of work. Hopefully, the office will have its staff enlarged in the near future so that it can better fulfill its tasks and effectively assist businesses in accessing the Dubai market, an important marketing gateway to the global market.