Expert Vu Van Phu, former Chairman of the Hanoi Association of Supermarkets, has suggested that there should be measures to support farm produce stockpiling, post-harvest preservation in combination with quickly developing a modern commercial system.

Safe farm produce finds it hard to enter supermarkets hinh anh 1Safe farm produce in supermarket (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Despite huge demand, farm produce chains still meet difficulties because of the lack of stable distribution channels.

Experts said it is a result of sporadic and low-scale development.

Unstable consumption

Hoa Binh has long been well-known for a variety of specialties. Thanks to favourable natural conditions, the quality of orange, grapefruit, sugarcane, indigenous pig, hill chicken and Song Da fish is always distinctive from that in other regions.

Nguyen Huu Tai, head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Bureau, said Hoa Binh farm produce have met VietGap standards with strictly-controlled quality. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use of plant protection chemicals, thus ensuring absolute safety for consumers.

However, Hoa Binh farm produce consumption in other provinces remains low. In Hanoi, the consumption accounts for only nearly 20-30 percent of the province’s total farm produce output.

Tai attributed that to the lack of large-scale production models associated with consumption. Moreover, consumers also lack information about the origins of agricultural products while distributors still work on a small scale.

Farm produce sold in traditional markets are more competitive due to advantages in prices and distribution systems.

Nguyen Trong Lam, Director of the Hoang Long animal husbandry and services cooperative in Hanoi’s outlying district of Thanh Oai, introduced its production process from farming breeding animals to slaughtering, processing to ensure food hygiene and safety, but consumption remains slow.

“It is because many consumers still get wrong when choosing safe products on the market”, Long said.

Safe farm produce finds it hard to enter supermarkets hinh anh 2Trade promotion programmes help boost the consumption of local goods. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Promoting connectivity

With a population of about 10 million people, the demand for agricultural products in Hanoi is very huge. The capital city consumes about 7,000 tonnes of food such as rice, cattle, poultry and seafood each month.

In particular, the consumption during Lunar New Year and festive holidays increases by between 5 and 21 percent compared to other months, while businesses and production facilities in Hanoi can meet only 30-60 percent of the demand.

Though farm produce demand in Hanoi is quite high, only 20 percent of agricultural products and food are sold through supermarkets and the rest, at traditional markets.

Tran Thi Phuong Lan, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, said many agricultural products have yet to meet supermarkets’ standards due to the lack of hygiene, packaging, bar codes and food safety certificates.

In order to be placed in supermarkets and modern retail channels, goods must go through very rigorous inspection procedures. Apart from checking certificates of eligibility for safe production, supermarkets will make fact-finding trips to production facilities, then decide whether to sign contracts with them or not.

A representative from Big C supermarket chain said farmers and cooperatives need to pay special attention to safe production to ensure even product quality.

In order to step up consumption, expert Phu suggested building production and distribution infrastructure to cut the cost of goods production and transportation. 

He also proposed building a wholesale market system and farm produce trading floor to ensure openness and transparency, forming a close linkage between farmers, the State, scientists, businesses, banks and distributors, thus creating a chain of safe production and consumption in a sustainable way.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will also promote training courses for enterprises, especially foreign-invested retailers such as MM Mega Market, AEON, Big C and Lotte, through which it will provide information about standards for goods supply./.