Housewives are opting for the premium quality (but less expensive) foreign cuts of meat saying they particularly like the fact that expiry dates are clearly marked on the label and they know the product is safe to consume.
They also prefer the labeling of the foreign meats because the country of origin is clearly listed on the label.
According to the VHA, the production cost of meat in the US and Australia is on average 25-30% lower than that of Vietnam, which allows for it to be sold at a much lower price than domestic meat that has been selling for about VND200,000 per kilo as of late.
Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) reported that Vietnam imported 4,000 metric tons of pork and 80,000-90,000 metric tons of chicken, said the VHA.
Live cattle import also surged to more than 200,000 head from Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in 2015.
Given the number of free trade agreements that are set to come into effect over the next couple of years, it will be hard to close the floodgates now that the market has opened up, said VHA Chairman Nguyen Dang Van.
Van said last year the country spent more than US$400 million purchasing foreign meats and it all seems very unnecessary and wasteful, given the country’s agricultural advantages.
President Le Ba Lich of the Vietnam Animal Feed Association echoed Van’s view saying the livestock industry must develop an effective strategy to compete with the larger-scale foreign farms.
Currently, Lich said Vietnamese smallholder farmers aren’t equipped either financially or technologically to compete, nor do they have appropriate management techniques to produce the quality of meat of the foreigners.
The unfortunate reality however, is that farmers have been trying for the past decade to develop an effective strategy to compete with their foreign counterparts but have failed— and may never do so.