Vietnamese rice: Time for serious branding

09:31 | 01/11/2018 Society

(VEN) - The 10th World Rice Conference and the 2018 Vietnam Rice Conference held in Hanoi from October 10-12 created opportunities to promote the global image of Vietnamese rice. The events were organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), in association with The Rice Trader magazine.

vietnamese rice time for serious branding
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh

More fragrant, better quality

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Foreign Trade Agency show that from the beginning of 2018 to September 15, Vietnam exported 4.73 million tonnes of rice worth US$2.38 billion, up 9.3 percent in volume and 24.8 percent in value compared with the same period last year. The structure of export rice products has shown positive changes, with medium and high-quality white rice and fragrant rice accounting for a growing percentage, and low-quality white rice decreasing. In the first eight months of 2018, low-quality white rice accounted for a mere 2.01 percent of total export volume, while medium and high-quality white rice accounted for 42.46 percent, and fragrant rice 33.24 percent.

These results were attributed largely to export market development efforts. According to Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, the prime minister has approved a rice export development strategy for the 2017-2020 period, with an orientation towards 2030. The strategy indicates specific objectives of rice export market development. Specifically, these efforts are aimed at enhancing effectiveness and promoting rice exports; providing orientations for planning and organizing domestic production of rice as a commodity; enhancing competitiveness and building brands for export rice; and diversifying export markets to reduce reliance on specific markets.

Pursuing these goals, the government, the MoIT and other ministries and sectors have taken various measures to maintain Vietnam’s position as the world’s third largest rice exporter.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said that the domestic rice sector had improved product quality and increased its added value by applying high technologies and promoting safe production and organic farming. Vietnamese rice can now penetrate the world’s most discerning markets, he emphasized.

vietnamese rice time for serious branding
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue (middle) and Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh (left) visited a booth at the 2018 Vietnam Rice Conference

Brand building efforts

According to Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, rice production and trade in the region and worldwide is changing rapidly in the context of globalization and increasing economic linkages. Rice production faces the growing impacts of climate change and urbanization. Unfavorable changes in the regional and global sociopolitical situation, as well as new diseases, will also directly affect rice production and trade.

Experts believe building brands for Vietnamese rice is the most important task of the domestic rice sector. The experience of world-leading rice exporters, such as Cambodia and Thailand, shows that to build rice brands, state authorities should make a list of major products and propose suitable standards to ensure production transparency and product safety. For their part, businesses are responsible for creating quality products, maintaining and improving them. Organic farming should be prioritized. Brand building efforts need to be based on market demand.

Vietnamese rice businesses have become aware of the need to improve product quality. Nguyen Chanh Trung, managing director of rice and rice mill at the Tan Long Group Joint Stock Company, said that along with building good relations with customers and seeking new markets for its products, the company has paid special attention to technical requirements to improve quality.

Discerning markets also want to control residues of antibiotics, chemicals, pesticides and plant growth regulators in rice. The Republic of Korea (RoK), for example, requires Vietnamese rice to meet American standards, not those set by Vietnam. From 2019, RoK importers will also supervise the use of pesticides. Aware of these requirements, the Tan Long Group Joint Stock Company has concentrated on improving quality and building brands for its Japonica rice products. The company has successfully exported its products to discerning markets, including the RoK.

Huynh Van Thon, Chairman and General Director of the Loc Troi Group, said the group had maintained its ties with farmers by providing them with quality seeds and other necessary materials, and pledging to buy their products at negotiable prices to ensure mutual benefit. A rice variety produced by the Loc Troi Group has made it to the top-three list of the world’s best rice varieties.

“Popularizing business models like Loc Troi and Tan Long is necessary to build brands for Vietnamese rice and promote sustainable rice exports,” gricultural expert Hoang Trong Thuy said.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue:

In the context of the fourth industrial revolution, rice producers are required not only to increase yields, improve

quality and adapt to climate change, but also to create new products.