Bringing Vietnamese rice brand to the world

(VLR) More than 30 years after the first batch of rice was exported, Vietnamese rice has been available on 150 markets around the world. However, it is worth mentioning that Vietnamese rice brand has not yet recognized for world consumers. Therefore, Vietnam needs to have a methodical strategy, prioritizing quality to increase value instead of focusing on output with lower price as today.

Lost at home ground

According to preliminary statistics of the General Department of Customs, in the first 11 months of 2019, Vietnam’s rice exports reached 5.87 million tons, earning 2.58 billion USD and increased up to 4.1% in volume over the same period last year. Despite always being on the top of rice exporting countries, Vietnamese rice has not yet made a mark for the world consumers. It seems that the world only refers to Thailand and Cambodian rice while many countries main import is from Vietnam. This shows that Vietnam’s rice export mainly chasing production and quantity without realizing the importance of branding, which made Vietnamese rice unable to position its brand on the world market.

Even in the domestic market, Vietnamese rice is also losing its position when people also prefer Thailand, Cambodian and Taiwanese rice because they are cleaner, fragrant, less pesticides and fertilizers.

The name of Vietnamese rice is still unknown to the world because Vietnam does not have a “national rice brand”. Therefore, Vietnam’s export rice price is still flat at a low level, even though there are lots of well-known names such as ST25. As evidence, Vietnam’s ST25 rice price is the highest value brand rice, also exported at a price of only 750 - 800 USD/ton, while Thai rice with the same quality up to 1,100 - 1,200 USD/ton. Branding is not to sell more rice, but to sell at a higher price, bringing more value to the country, businesses and rice farmers.

Branding needs to start within the domestic market first. We cannot lose on our home ground while the quality requirements we can fully meet. Vietnamese rice need to be produced with high quality for local people through clean, organic production methods and applying high technology to production, because not only rice exports are an important step for the development of the rice industry, but it also produced for domestic consumption.

Developing the rice industry

On May 21st, 2015, the Prime Minister issued Decision
No. 706/QD-TTg approving the Project on Vietnam Rice Brand Development to 2020 with a plan to 2030. Accordingly, by 2030, Vietnam will build stable, efficient and sustainable export rice production regions, making Vietnamese rice a world leading brand in terms of quality and food safety; strive to achieve 50% of export rice branded Vietnamese rice, of which 30% of total export rice volume is fragrant and specialty rice.

Moreover, Vietnamese rice brand’s image and value will be improved through synchronous operation to promote and introduce to businesses and consumers in both domestic and international markets...; Develop and implement a joint cooperation plan between trade promotion agencies and enterprises to promote and introduce the image and quality of Vietnamese rice on the world market, encouraging and supporting enterprises to use Vietnamese rice brand.

On December 18th 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development officially announced the Vietnamese Rice Brand logo with the stylized rice flower image, the leaves of the rice variety were changed to shape as the Lac Viet bird spreading its wings. The green background brings the message that Vietnam is a country with clean, safe and environmentally friendly agriculture. This is a very important event when Vietnam has the first national rice brand logo, so that it can improve the awareness of Vietnamese rice products in the world.

Along with all sectors, many domestic businesses have started to apply high technology, investing in modern milling and packing systems to meet the increasing requirements of high-end markets.

The world’s best rice and brand positioning of Vietnamese rice

The reason Thailand and Cambodia have high prices is because their good reputation and branding, creating trust in quality with customers. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s export rice, despite its high quality, no one knows about and always stay at low prices, leading to the fact that despite switching to exporting highquality rice, the value earned has not changed much compared to the time export period of ordinary rice.

At the 11th World Rice Trade Conference held in the Philippines (November 11th-13th, 2019), surpassing all other competitors from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam’s ST25 rice was honored as “The best rice in the world”. After decades of branding efforts, Vietnamese rice was able to position its name on the international market for the first time, confirming the position and quality of Vietnamese rice products..

The honor from ST25 rice of Vietnam has changed the world view of Vietnamese rice products since then. This event not only contributes to improve the reputation of Vietnamese rice, but also a motivation for localities, businesses and farmers to invest in high quality rice production in the future.

The current trend of the world is to use safe, environmentally friendly products, which means limiting the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and toxic herbicides. Vietnam’s rice industry needs to boldly eliminate the criteria to increase productivity at all costs, do not rush to export in quantity, instead focusing on quality and value.

From the award of a competition to bringing Vietnamese rice brand to the world is still a long journey ahead. Therefore, ministries, departments, businesses and even farmers who directly create Vietnamese rice products must come together to create a whole strategic plan for developing Vietnamese rice is more different than what is available for over 30 years.

Hoài Nhân

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