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Thailand is already a world-leading exporter of agriproducts. What is the gain in importing Vietnamese products to Thailand?
Vietnamese agriproducts have great potential, not only because of their quality, but because their prices are also very competitive against Thai goods. Moreover, some Vietnamese fruits have become Thai consumers’ favorites, including dragon fruit, avocado, King orange, cainito, sweet potato, and so on. That is why as soon as the Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam merger was finished in January 2016, TCC Group started doing some market research in Thailand and looking for Vietnamese fruits that satisfy the quality requirements to be distributed at our Big C Thailand outlets.
Besides, Vietnamese frozen catfish and Da Lat flowers will also be on our list of exported items to Thailand in the near future.
In fact, as of 2015, Thailand has also been one of Vietnam’s top ten vegetable and fruit export markets. I believe that Vietnam’s agriproduct exports to Thailand will keep increasing in the years to come.
TCC Group will launch a Vietnamese goods fair in Thailand via MM Mega Market (formerly Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam). What is the purpose of such an event and what would it entail?
Following our market research, we found that while Vietnamese goods have really solid potential in Thailand, a large number of Thai companies and consumers are still barely aware of them. That is why we are planning to have a Vietnamese product fair at Big C Thailand in the foreseeable future.
We also plan to invite Vietnamese exporters who can provide potential products for the Thai market to attend. The event will surely draw a large crowd of not just consumers but interested businesses from all over Thailand. I also believe that it will be a good opportunity for ‘Made in Vietnam’ products to get up ‘close and personal’ with consumers in Thailand.
With the Asean Economic Community potentially established in December 2015, do you have any advice for Vietnamese agriproduct producers and exporters to secure a foothold in the ASEAN?
Vietnam has a great opportunity to export these staple products when it becomes a part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), as domestic businesses will gain access to a larger consumer market with a population of 600 million and a GDP of $2.6 trillion.
The doors to the market have opened, and the critical question remaining is how Vietnam can do a good job in production development and organisation. It also hinges on how the country decides to increase production and exports, while meeting the importing countries’ food safety and phytosanitary requirements. If it can surmount these barriers, Vietnam will definitely be very competitive in exporting its agriproducts within the ASEAN.
Through MM Mega Market Vietnam, we have and are working closely with established Vietnamese vegetable and fruit exporters to take local products to consumers through the Big C system in Thailand. In addition to Cao Thanh Phat, which we have partnered with to export dragon fruit, we are also completing procedures to export many other quality Vietnamese goods to Thailand and other countries in the region. I believe that these products will surely have a solid place on the Thai market.
Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam had partnership projects with vegetable and fruit farmers in Da Lat and fishermen in Can Tho. Will MM Mega Market continue these projects?
Yes, we continue projects Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam previously started in partnership with farmers. Even better, we have plans to double purchases from farmers in Da Lat for the top 10 best-selling items, to reach 1,050 tonnes per month by the end of September 2016. Besides, we have the strong VietGAP development programme for fruits and vegetables from Da Lat, Moc Chau, and the Red River Delta in the north. The volume of safe vegetables bought from farmers and cooperatives in Moc Chau will reach 250 tonnes by the end September 2016, and will keep on growing in the following years. In term of fish, we plan to double the volume in 2016 from 2,000 to 4,000 tonnes per year.
What role does the Vietnamese market play in TCC Group’s development strategy?
Vietnam has been identified among TCC Group’s key markets. Recently, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the majority shareholder of Berli Jucker Public Company Limited (BJC) and chairman of TCC Group, paid an exclusive courtesy visit to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his visit to Hanoi. Our chairman had fruitful discussions with the Prime Minister on long-term investment plans and sustainable development opportunities in Vietnam in the near future.
As part of the plan to support Vietnam’s socio-economic development, Charoen pledged to provide a VND10 billion ($470 million) fund for the construction of a completely new school and education infrastructure in a rural area of Vietnam.
TCC Group is one of the largest Thai investors in Vietnam. Through its affiliates, the group provides employment to over 8,000 Vietnamese nationals. We are committed to expanding TCC Group’s long-term presence and investment in Vietnam for the benefit and sustainable development of the Vietnamese people.