The situation, however, has produced both opportunities and challenges for Vietnamese enterprises in building a trademark for local farm produce that is recognized in foreign markets.
Cao Thi Kim Lan, director of Binh Dinh Fishery JSC, said that due to the European Commission’s yellow card on Vietnam’s seafood exports to the European market, 100% of the firm’s exported seafood products were being detained at destination ports for check.
The firm has faced multiple difficulties in meeting requirements related to the origins of legal fishing products. Of the 10 fishing boats supplying these materials, the company has only made purchases from three or four boats that have succeeded in meeting the requirements, while the remaining boats failed to sell their products as their owners could not present any fishing diaries or identify their fishing locations.
Keeping detailed diaries on fishing practices seems strange to fishermen who are used to traditional fishing methods, Lan added.
Firms have proposed the State support fishermen by installing positioning devices and electronic diaries on their boats to increase transparency in controlling and managing seafood and ensure origin traceability.
Dao Ha Trung, chairman of the HCM City Association of High Technology, said the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, had requested suppliers to apply origin traceability using blockchain technology to ensure food safety.
Accordingly, goods suppliers are required to follow a roadmap issued by Walmart by end-January 2019, while the entire supply chain is expected to apply the roadmap by late September 2019.
Major European and Australian retailers are in the process of applying the blockchain platform to ensure origin traceability.
The establishment of higher standards will help foreign retailers control food more effectively to promptly handle problems without needing to review and inspect all paperwork, as before.
Recently, a pilot program financed by the Australian Embassy in Vietnam was launched, using blockchain technology to trace the origin of dragon fruits exported to the country to help Australian customers conduct origin traceability checks on their smartphones.
Nguyen Thu Hang, a representative from the Asia Foundation, stated that the strict requirements on food safety and traceable products will open the door for Vietnam’s enterprises to establish brands and expand the market if their products meet standards.
Hoang Trung, head of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that origin traceability checks should be conducted based on digitalization and advanced technology in the fourth industrial revolution.
Foreign markets’ requirements on origin traceability are no longer new or strange. Even China has set origin traceability requirements with high standards. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has written to the Chinese government asking for collaboration in tracing the origin of Vietnamese fruits, he said.
Trung said that foreign traders and retailers required exported fruits to be uncontaminated with insect-borne diseases and to meet standards on plant-protection drug levels and origin traceability.
Therefore, Vietnam’s enterprises and producers should focus on improving the quality of products and origin traceability instead of applying advanced technology that might push prices up.
Vo Quan Huy, director of Huy Long An Company, pointed out that the firm had successfully satisfied the selective Japanese market by applying VietGap standards in producing bananas and meeting the distinctive requirements imposed by the market.
Nguyen Dinh Tung, general director of Vina T&T Co., Ltd, Vietnam’s largest fruit exporter to the United States, said the firm has been applying digital technology to meet origin traceability requirements for fruits sold on the local market.
Tung explained that domestic customers have lost confidence in domestic products, so the manufacturer has to prove the quality of its products by boosting transparency to build a brand in the local market.