Vietnam needs to develop coffee branding to go global
Vietnam has no coffee brand in the list of the 10 most expensive in the world, although it is the largest Robusta coffee producer and ranks second in export coffee volume.
In the past, Vietnam has had many programmes on coffee sustainable development. However, it is necessary to develop a value chain from production to consumption.
Vietnam needs to reposition its coffee brand, focus on continuing to replant, build brands, and process refined products, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan.
The minister said that the important thing is the place of Vietnamese coffee on the world coffee map. Customers like Arabica coffee but Vietnam is the largest Robusta coffee producer.
If Vietnam wants to have a reputation on the world coffee map, it must determine whether to develop Arabica coffee or maintain production of Robusta coffee, or mix these two coffee lines, according to Hoan.
Coffee is widely considered as more than just a drink. Many products are developed from coffee trees such as coffee flower honey, fertiliser from coffee grounds, and dyes for fabrics, yarns and shoes.
Meanwhile, Vietnam is still producing and exporting raw materials.
If Vietnam's coffee industry wants to increase the value of coffee by 5-10 times, it must review the product lines, market trends and demand. For processed coffee products, it is necessary to understand the needs of customers to provide suitable products.
At present, very few companies make brands of Vietnamese coffee to export to the world. Thailand has high-class coffee, selling for up to 50-100 USD per cup in 5-star hotels around the world.
Regarding building a Vietnamese coffee brand in foreign markets, Le Huu Nghia, general director of the Le Thanh Company and chairman of LEKOFE Coffee Beverage Co, Ltd, said foreign consumers had the habit of using branded coffee made by local producers. "Vietnamese coffee has a good taste, is of better quality and is cheaper, but they do not pay attention."
Vietnam's enterprises must sell raw coffee to factories processing branded coffee products.
Therefore, the businesses that want to build a coffee brand to increase the value of Vietnamese coffee in foreign markets needed a methodical strategy, Nghia said.
Besides that, it would be necessary to focus on communication for consumers about clean and quality coffee, and for farmers about growing coffee under international standards, he said.
This month, the 8th Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival takes place from March 10 to 14 in Buon Ma Thuot city to gradually make Buon Ma Thuot a destination on the world coffee map, contributing to raising the value of Vietnamese coffee in the global market.
In recent years, at world-leading coffee competitions, such as the International Catering Cup, Vietnam's Robusta coffee bean brand has been recognised by experts and won awards.
Reputable organisations such as Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and Fairtrade, have certified Vietnamese Robusta coffee to meet international quality and standards.
At the World Barista Championship in September 2022, Takayuki Ishitani, the Japanese champion in 2017 and 2019, used Vietnamese Robusta.
Now, Vietnamese Robusta coffee is consumed in more than 80 countries and territories. Vietnamese coffee has recorded strong growth in exports to countries consuming a large volume of coffee.
In the first 10 months of 2022, Vietnam's coffee exports surged by 58.2% to 494.9 million USD to Germany, 78.7% to 57 million USD to France and 91% to 28 million USD to Canada.
Italy – ranking first in terms of coffee consumption and home to the espresso and cappuccino – has also increased coffee imported from Vietnam, the Kinh te do thi (Urban Economy) newspaper reported.
In January 2023, Vietnam's coffee exports to Italy reached 17,270 tonnes, earning about 36 million USD, up 79% in volume and 81.5% in value compared to December 2022.
According to the General Department of Customs, Vietnam's coffee exports still maintain second place in the world, after Brazil. Vietnam's coffee exports in February 2023 reached 180,000 tonnes, earning 393 million USD, up 26.3% in volume and 26.5% in value on month, and 28.7% in volume and 22% in value on year.
However, in the first two months of this year, Vietnam's coffee exports reached 323,000 tonnes, worth 703 million USD, down 13.1% in volume and 14.6% in value over the same period of 2022.