|Vietnamese fruits on display at a FairPrice supermarket in Singapore. Many Vietnamese products are popular with Singaporean consumers. — VNS Photo
There were seven kinds of leaf tea products, moringa leaf tea, guava leaf tea, mulberry leaf tea, soursop leaf tea, roselle flower tea, noni fruit tea, and graviola leaf tea, which are made of all-natural ingredients with no preservatives, colourants or additives added, she said.
“After three months, we realised that Singaporean customers are very fond of our soursop leaf tea, moringa leaf tea, guava leaf tea and mulberry leaf tea.”
“We had sold 30,000 boxes of tea.”
Nguyen Anh Duc, deputy general director of the Saigon Co.op, the leading Vietnamese retailer, said his co-operative exported 200 containers of goods annually to Singapore, including basa fish fillet, shrimp, sweet potato, green-skin pomelo, coconut and others to sell at its Singaporean partner NTUC FairPrice’s stores.
“The export has been increasing by 20% a year and is expected to top US$2 million this year.”
Vietnamese goods ranked fourth among Asia-Pacific products sold by NTUC FairPrice, which accounted for 56-60% of supermarket sales in Singapore, he said.
Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice, said: “Vietnamese products have grown in popularity and become a staple in many Singaporean households. Whether it is Vietnamese rice, which now comprises more than one-fifth of all the rice sold here at FairPrice, fresh produce, frozen seafood or even laundry aids and detergent, we have seen an increased acceptance and demand for Vietnamese products.”
FairPrice now offers about 650 Vietnamese products in over 40 product categories, a 17% increase from 2015, he said.
Steven Ang, head of purchase at Saigon Co-op FairPrice Limited Liability Company, a joint venture between Saigon Co-op and NTUC FairPrice, said: “The quality of Vietnamese products overall is very good. For example, the chiku [sapodilla] that we are selling now, the Vietnamese one is preferred in comparison to the one from Malaysia, and the price is also very competitive.”
Vietnam has a lot of healthy products such as organic rice and pho, he said.
“We continue to look for more suppliers ... to bring new products from Vietnam to Singapore.”
Duc from the Saigon Co.op said: “Singaporean consumers are particularly fond of Vietnamese fresh produce and processed foods such as coffee and cashew nuts. Singaporeans are changing from potato to sweet potato, so Saigon Co.op has promoted the export of sweet potatoes to Singapore via the FairPrice system.”
Singaporean consumers are also fond of Vietnamese mango and dragon fruit, he said.
"The prices of Vietnamese goods are very competitive compared to goods imported from countries outside the ASEAN region sold in Singapore because the ASEAN countries have free trade agreements together.
“But we have faced intense competition from companies in the region, which requires Vietnamese enterprises to make more efforts to improve product quality and reduce costs to improve competitiveness.”
In the past, Vietnamese products were far behind the goods from other countries in the region, but now the gap is narrowing, he said.
However, Vietnamese manufacturers still have a lot of work to do to establish Vietnamese brands in the world market, and invest more in product packaging and models, he said.
“Foreign buyers require standardisation, uniformity in quality, weight and specifications,” he said.
Multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements are creating an excellent opportunity for Vietnamese goods to penetrate the world market, he said.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Singapore is among Vietnam’s major trade partners, with bilateral trade going up from US$7.1 billion in 2016 to US$8.3 billion last year.