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Brand building a must to boost VN rice exports

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Workers load bags of rice in Song Hau Food Company (under the Vietnam Southern Food Corporation). VNA/VNS Photo

Brand building a must to boost VN rice exports

While 2020 has been a successful year for Vietnamese rice exports, more must be done to accelerate the development of the national rice brand, experts have said.

Rice export prices in Vietnam jumped to their highest point since December 2011 last week, as a shortage of containers sent freight rates soaring and pushed Thai prices to a near four-month peak.

Prices for Vietnam’s five per cent broken rice hit $500 per tonne, from the previous week’s $470-490, Reuters reported.

A shortage of containers has made it difficult for traders to ship rice to customers, a trader based in the Mekong province of An Giang said.

For instance, freight rates for a 20-feet container to Africa have risen to $5,000 from $1,500 a couple of months ago, the trader said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, at the World Rice Trade Conference 2020 held by The Rice Trader (TRT) earlier this month, Vietnamese rice ST25 was named the second-best rice in the world. Last year, it was given first prize in the Philippine capital of Manila.

The TRT World Rice Conference is the largest annual gathering of commercial and professional rice industry participants in the world.

This is good news for Vietnamese rice and rice exports are forecast to grow strongly in the future.

The prize is also an opportunity to develop stronger branding for Vietnamese rice, according to the agricultural experts, because after more than 30 years of exporting, Vietnam’s rice industry only has a national brand logo.

Thailand and Cambodia have branded their rice to improve promotion activities on the global market and create confidence in product quality.

Therefore, their rice products have higher selling prices, Cong Trung An High-Tech Agriculture JSC director-general Pham Thai Binh told Nhip cau Dau tu (Investment Bridge) newspaper.

Meanwhile, local traders could not get higher prices for their high-quality rice without a national brand, he said.

Vietnam is among the world’s top rice exporters with a total export value ranking second highest in the world. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently approved a project to further develop Vietnam’s rice brand.

Specifically, by 2030, Vietnam hopes to have stable, efficient and sustainable regions producing rice for export to build Vietnamese rice into the world’s leading brand in food quality and safety.

The project calls for Vietnam to restructure the rice production industry with investment in certain varieties to increase the value of their rice seeds. However, in the Mekong Delta, the largest rice production region in the country, the creation of a large field model has not achieved the expected efficiency gains.

Unprofessional production makes it difficult to build a brand, said Lam Dinh Quoc, former director of Soc Trang Food Co.

Therefore, Loc Troi Group is building an ecosystem in rice production where the group and farmers produce rice under orders from large companies.

Recently, the group has exported more than 126 tonnes of fragrant rice to the EU under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). This is the first shipment to enjoy the zero tax rate since the agreement came into effect.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said: “The EU is a huge rice importer at 2.3-2.5 million tonnes per year. So, with the EVFTA and control in rice quality, Vietnam’s rice exports to this market will increase in the future.”

In the first 11 months of this year, Vietnam’s rice exports exceeded 5.7 million tonnes, earning nearly $2.83 billion. The average price was $496 per tonne, according to the General Department of Customs.

Exports reduced by about three per cent in volume but surged by 9.7 per cent in turnover and about 13 per cent in average price over the same period last year.

Last month alone, the nation exported 351,515 tonnes of rice, earning $189 million with an average price of $537.6 per tonne. Exports decreased by 3.3 per cent in volume but increased by 12.8 per cent in turnover and by 16.7 per cent in price.

Over the first 11 months of this year, the Philippines was the largest export market for Vietnamese rice with a volume of 1.94 million tonnes, accounting for 34 per cent of the country’s total, earning $910.16 million. Numbers were down 1.7 per cent in volume but up 11.8 per cent in value year-on-year.

Markets with strong growth in rice import volume from Vietnam included Indonesia (up 181 per cent), Australia (58.2 per cent) and the EU (23 per cent).

However, Vietnam saw a high reduction of rice exports to some markets, such as Iraq (65.6 per cent), Hong Kong (24.7 per cent) and Senegal (32.5 per cent).



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