Private Vietnamese rice firm secures export deal to Singapore

By Thi Ha   June 12, 2016 | 11:23 am GMT-8
A private firm from the southern province of Dong Thap has received approval from Singapore to export rice to the country, one of the most competitive markets in the world.

The vast majority of Vietnam’s rice is exported by state-run companies.

Pham Minh Thien, director of Co May, said it has taken him almost three years to secure the Singapore contract. Co May exported its first 100 tons of rice to Singapore in March. In total, the company has shipped about 150 tons to the market to be sold at Singapore’s Fortune and BigBox supermarkets, with prices ranging from $2.7-$3.3 per kg.

“Our rice has received a positive response from Singaporean customers even though we only entered the market a few months ago. Vietnamese rice is very competitive in comparison with Thai rice as it is fresh, soft and fragrant. However, because we have encountered difficulties, it has taken us three years to penetrate this market,” Thien said.

The Co May rice sold in BigBox supermarket. Photo by VnExpress/KH

The Co May rice sold in BigBox supermarket. Photo by VnExpress/KH

Under Vietnamese regulations, in order to get permission to export rice from the government, small companies like Co May have to set up special storage faciliities that can hold at least 5,000 tons of rice. Singaporean authorities also required the exporter to set up a large storage system before allowing Co May to export rice to the country.

“We had to fly back and forth between Vietnam and Singapore several times before the decision was made to use our company name to market the rice in Singapore. Our rice can only be sold in Singapore if we follow the strict rules set by the supermarkets there,” the Co May director said. He added that his company had once failed to sell another rice brand, Nosavina, to Singapore, which cost him about $5 million in marketing, due to intellectual issues.

The private Vietnamese firm finally decided to set up a subsidiary in Singapore, which is managed by local residents, to help find a way into supermarkets there, according to Thien.

Data from Vietnam Customs said that last year, the country exported 6.6 million tons of rice, up four percent year-on-year. China was the biggest consumer of Vietnamese rice, accounting for 30.7 percent of total export volume, followed by Indonesia (10.2 percent) and Malaysia (7.8 percent).

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