Foreign organic products find it difficult to enter Vietnam
The Vietnamese organic product market, which includes both food and non-food, has been taking shape in the last few years, but there are still few importers of organic products.
There are still few importers of organic products
Most of the products are carried to Vietnam across border gates. Customers have to buy products at high prices, and cannot enjoy post-sale services.
Organic communities like ‘tieu dung huu co’ (organic consumption’ and ‘song huu co’ (organic life) on the internet and Facebook share knowledge about organic agriculture and also sell organic products.
However, the bills issued by shops overseas are the only evidence that prove the ‘organic’ characteristic of products in some cascades.
Sometimes, when supermarkets overseas run sale promotion programs, the members of the communities order in groups to share shipping fees.
At a high-end food shop on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street in district 1, HCM City, next to shelves displaying products imported through official channel which have sub-labels in Vietnamese with sufficient information, there is a shelf for organic products imported through unofficial channels.
Reporters noted that most of the products are organic spices with little information about names and selling prices. Detailed information is written in Japanese. Buyers have to rely on information provided by sellers or have to search for information on the internet.
The representative of Thien An Le Trade & Service Company in HCMC, which specializes in ‘non-chemical products’, said the company is one of a few retailers which sell officially imported products.
There are only a few importers which import these products. These include NTP, which specializes in importing dairy products, grains and cooking oil. Solomon specializes in organic dairy products and Fire Phoenix in cosmetics.
Meanwhile, most imports don’t have documents to show their origin.
According to Pham Phuong Thao, managing director of Organica which owns Organica shops, the Vietnamese organic food market is still small. Some companies only import products in small quantities.
Phan Thi Hong Quyen, co-founder of Solomon International, the exclusive distributor of Organic Valley, said it took two years to negotiate with Organic Valley to obtain the right to distribute its products.
However, Quyen complained that the import procedures are complicated and the import tariff on dairy products from the US is high (30 percent import tariff and 10 percent VAT).
Vu Kim Hanh, chair of High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association, said organic foods have become very popular in Vietnam. The market is worth VND3.5 trillion a year.