The two-day forum, hosted by the International Finance Corporation, discussed how investments in food safety and fostering a food safety culture could help companies unlock business opportunities, create jobs and contribute to economic growth.
Executives representing key players in the global food industry discussed the case for companies to adopt food safety standards and practices.
Gabor Fluit, general director of De Hues Vietnam, a subsidiary of the Dutch-based Royal De Heus Group, said 10 years ago when his company first entered the Vietnamese market, there was very little talk about food safety.
However, with the economy booming, consumers’ demands are increasing and people with high incomes are becoming more and more concerned about the quality and origin of the food they eat, he said.
“That is an opportunity for food producers to produce safe and traceable food to meet the demand of consumers in Vietnam.”
He said if local producers could do so, there would be a double benefit: consumers could buy local products instead of imports and the high quality would enable producers to export.
The Government needs to enhance monitoring of food safety issues by collecting samples without prior notice at restaurants, supermarkets and wet markets, he said.
“If anyone violates regulations, their licence should be suspended immediately. This will increase consumers’ trust.”
Foreign experts and practitioners also shared their experiences in instilling a food safety culture and promoting stronger standards across food supply chains.
Rana Karadsheh, regional industry director of manufacturing, agribusiness and services for IFC, said investment in food safety management systems is a prerequisite for growing a country’s agribusiness sector.
“Internationally-recognised standards have a proven track record of delivering results that include better risk management and better access to markets. In addition, for investors, a strong, effective food safety management system is a sign of a sustainable business.”
Agribusiness is one of IFC’s focuses. It recently invested VND230 billion (US$10.2 million) in Vietnamese food producer PAN Farm JSC to support the expansion of its seed business and new export-quality flower, fruit and vegetable operations.
Nguyen Quoc Hoang, general director of PAN Food, said the IFC also brings in experts to help his company develop food safety standards. Thanks to this the company got a global food safety certificate last year.
The forum resumes on November 29 with more panel discussions on risk management in small holder supply chains and private sector investment in food safety.