|Romain Cools, general secretary of Belgapom
Leading Belgian fries exporters Agristo, Bart’s Potato Company, Clarebout Potatoes, Ecofrost, and Mydibel under the “Belgian Fries” banner are seeking opportunities to widen their networks and increase their share in Vietnam’s growing market for processed potato products and heighten awareness of Belgian fries in Vietnam and the region.
Romain Cools, general secretary of Belgapom, said: “Hot on the heels of exhibiting in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, we are pleased to bring Belgian fries to Vietnam this time around, as part of our plan to increase our presence in Southeast Asia. There is an existing market for our products, but we see even bigger opportunities to expand exports and heighten appreciation for our national delicacy.”
Cools assessed that Southeast Asia is one of the largest fast-growing regions of the world, with a rising middle class, rapid urbanization, and an overall young population. These trends, together with Belgium’s high food standards and innovation, will continue to drive demand in the region and beyond, and the fries industry is ready to reply to this in an original way.
“Vietnam is well-known as a food-lover’s paradise, and Vietnamese consumers really know and love good food. Belgian fries are still relatively unknown in Vietnam, so we are excited about this opportunity to share one of Belgium’s most beloved national dishes with Vietnam,” added Cools.
Belgium is the largest exporter of frozen fries in the world, with 90 per cent of its production freighted to the global market. In 2016, Belgian fries exports rose by 14.3 per cent to 1.68 million tonnes in 2016 from a year earlier, with an increasing share going to countries outside the EU.
Jon Heylen from Belgian Agristo Company said “We are very optimistic about the future. The fries industry has been developing well and our farmers benefit from the development. We are trying to differentiate our products and sell only the very best across the globe.”
Meanwhile, the consumption of potato in Vietnam is still at low level, around 4kg per person per year. With the population growing by 1.1 per cent annually, Vietnam is a potential market for Belgium and other countries to export potato and other agricultural products.
Talking with VIR about potential co-operations in the time coming, Romain Cools said “Our expected growth is 50 per cent based on the GDP and population growth of Vietnam. So we might believe in increase in the future, because Belgium exported only 3,077 tonnes of fries to Vietnam last year, with a total export value of nearly $3 million.”