Despite the economic situation, companies and traditional village-based producers are making all efforts to meet the usual surge in demand during Tet (the Lunar New Year) and improve quality and design, a Ho Chi Minh City official has said.

Le Ngoc Dao, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said at a seminar on new Vietnamese products and special features for the longest and most important yearly festival: "With higher quality, Vietnamese products have met the increasing demand of consumers and gradually competed with imports."

Around 20 firms like Vissan, Pham Nguyen Bakery, An Giang Fruit-Vegetables and Foodstuff Joint Stock Company, Sai Gon Food, Phu Le Wine JS Company, and Hanh Phuc Fish Sauce Company displayed many new products they plan to produce for Tet.

They assured adequate supply besides promotions to meet customers' needs during the festival.

Phan Van Dung of Vissan, one of the country's biggest meat processing firms, said production for Tet had begun as long ago as June to ensure enough supply so that prices remain stable until after the festival.

"Along with supermarket chain Co.opmart, his company would slash meat prices on the last two days before Tet – which falls on January 31 this year – to enable poor people to buy since prices spike at traditional markets on those days," he said.

Le Thanh Truc of Phu Le Wine JSC said local specialities like traditional wine are very popular during Tet.

The company would unveil many ne w designs for gifts during the New Year, she said, adding that it plans to increase supply 10-fold to avoid a shortage like last year.

Sai Gon Food also plans to increase supply this year after a shortage last Tet, Le Thi Thanh Lam, the company's deputy general director, said.

Tran Thai Ha, managing director of the Binh Duong branch of Huu Nghi Food JSC, said the company would supply 5,000 tonnes of confectionery in the south during Tet, expecting sales to increase by two or three times.

Nguyen Thanh Nhan, deputy general director of Sai Gon Co.op – which owns Co.opmart – said: "Demand is expected to increase by 10-20 percent over last Tet."

Sai Gon Co.op's supply of essential goods during the New Year will increase two- or three-fold over the normal time.

It will organise 150 mobile sales trips to rural areas and industrial parks and hopes to sell goods worth more than 20 billion VND (almost 1million USD).

Apart from selling essential goods at 10 percent less than market prices under the city's price stabilisation programme, Sai Gon Co.op will also cut prices of other products by 10-50 percent in co-operation with suppliers just ahead of Tet.

Domestically made products would continue to dominate the market due to their reasonable prices, Nhan said.

Dao said since supply would be ample, prices would not increase suddenly during Tet.

In any case, the department would monitor markets and severely punish hoarders and black-marketers, she said.

The conference was held in Ho Chi Minh City on December 16 by the High Quality Vietnamese Products Business Association, the Tuoi Tre newspaper, and Co.opmart as part of a programme called "Vietnamese Tet-Vietnamese goods".