Vietnam dough village hopes to make dough with straws

By Sen    March 5, 2019 | 12:35 am PT
A Mekong Delta village plans to make its traditional vocation a money maker with an unlikely product, dough straws.
CEO Vo Minh Khang of Hung Hau Food Company and his staff sort out the dough straws by colors. Photo courtesy of Hung Hau Food Company.

Staff of the Hung Hau Food Company sort the dough straws by color. Photo courtesy of Hung Hau Food Company.

The edible straws, a brainchild of the HCMC-based Hung Hau Food Company, are produced in Sa Dec town, Dong Thap Province, 162km west of Saigon.

Rice flour makes up 80 percent of the straw ingredients. Wheat flour and tapioca make up the rest. Then, natural colors from vegetables and fruits are extracted to make colorful dough straws.

"Our company does a lot of research into this product. From online information and field trips in different countries, I discovered that developed countries no longer like plastic straws because of environmental pollution," Lam Trung Hieu, vice president of Hung Hau Food Company, told VnExpress International.

Not using chemicals in making straws and other environmentally friendly products comes with its own challenges.

"The most difficult part was the reinforcement needed to make the dough more durable, prevent it from being brittle. We had to find a standard formula to make this happen without using any chemicals...," Hieu said.

The company seems to have worked out the formula. The edible pastry-like straws can be stored in normal environment for about 18 months. When used, they can stay intact for at least 30 minutes.

The straw has attracted a lot attention from both local entrepreneurs and those from South Korea and Japan.

Currently, Hung Hau can produce 100,000 straws per day, about a ton, roughly. In February, the company began operating its second production line, increasing its capacity by five times.

The 100 percent organic materials originate from the fertile land in the very town that the factory is located.

Dough straws are being dried. Photo courtesy of Hung Hau Food Company.

The edible straws are hung to dry. Photo courtesy of Hung Hau Food Company.

The company wants to tap the current trend of young people becoming more aware of environmental issues and opting for non-plastic items.

"We believe that in the long run, this will be a trend in Vietnam. A lot of people have asked me about this product," Hieu said.

The factory uses another natural advantage, because the Sa Dec dough village has been making rice dough for more than a century.

According to Sa Dec People's Committee, the village now has nearly 350 households producing rice flour, employing more than 2,000 workers. They supply 30,000 tons of rice flour to the market each year.

The partnership between Hung Hau Company and Sa Dec dough village has a promising future. In February, Nguyen Van Nuong, chairman of Sa Dec Dough Village Cooperative, told local media that eco-friendly products made with the village’s dough would help promote and further strengthen the traditional vocation.

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